Hammersmith Tory council has withdrawn its appalling plans for the King Street area but only for now. It is far from clear that the battle is over for the many hundreds of residents and local and national groups who have fought to prevent the construction of luxury high-rise blocks, the demolition of homes for the blind and of an art deco cinema and the loss of a chunk of the Furnivall Gardens park.
Until today, the council had dismissed all opposition out of hand. Now, however, they have deferred the scheme. The fear has to be that this is only until after the mayoral election next May.
It is worth reading carefully the statement sent by the council to the Save our Skyline campaign today. It says, "Hammersmith & Fulham Council has withdrawn the stage II referral until further notice. It means that the Mayor is not required to take a decision at this time. The application is still live and therefore it may be referred back to the Mayor at a future date. This will be at the Council's discretion." (see Chronicle piece here).
Boris Johnson was required to take a decision today on whether to let the scheme go forward. He knows that the mayoral elections are only five months away. By withdrawing the scheme for now, the Hammersmith Tories are hoping this won't become an election issue for Boris. However, after the election, there is no guarantee that they won't bring the scheme back, slightly tweaked. If re-elected, Boris could pass it then.
It looks as if the way is already being paved for this. As today's statement also said, "Hammersmith & Fulham Council has agreed to work with the Greater London Authority on a further independent rigorous assessment on viability to determine whether there is scope to reduce the height of the buildings again."
By the way, according to the Chronicle, Boris "told council leader Stephen Greenhalgh there was no chance of the project going ahead in its current form". Greenhalgh resigned as leader last Tuesday 12 December. When did he and Boris speak?