Boris Johnson has stood down as chair of a key regeneration agency just weeks after announcing he would personally lead its work to rejuvenate the Old Oak and Park Royal areas.
On March 10th City Hall announced the Mayor would chair the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) – a special purpose vehicle able to cut through planning red tape and direct regeneration efforts in the area.
The agency’s work will involve overseeing the construction of 24,000 new homes and more than 55,000 new jobs. It will also have the power to impose a Community Infrastructure Levy to help its plans.
Mr Johnson chaired OPDC’s inaugural meeting on April 1st but London Assembly members have now been informed he plans to step down and appoint chief of staff Sir Edward Lister in his place.
The Mayor is also quitting as Chair of the London Legacy Development Corporation and has nominated deputy chair Neale Coleman to succeed him.
In a letter to Assembly Clair Roger Evans, Mr Johnson claims “current arrangements” for both bodies “are a little disjointed” and says he’ll continue to oversee City Hall’s regeneration efforts “through setting budgets and providing a strategic direction.”
News of Mr Johnson’s decision to quit both bodies comes two days before he’s likely to be elected as MP for Uxbridge.
With Mr Johnson expected to seek his party’s leadership should David Cameron vacate the role, news that he’s cutting back his City Hall workload is likely to fuel suggestions that his interest is London is waning as he prepares for the next stage of his political career.
Responding to our story, a spokesperson for the Mayor said: “The Mayor remains very much in charge and will continue to oversee the delivery of regeneration projects across London, including the work of the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation.
“This is about streamlining of portfolios and, with their vast experience, Neale Coleman and Sir Edward Lister are perfectly placed to take on the chairmanship of the two MDCs and deliver the Mayor’s vision for these two important areas of the capital.”