Boris Johnson has been accused of “reckless naivety” after he removed clauses from a contract which would have ensured a developer buying a disused fire station in Southwark used the site for a new school.
Earlier this year Mr Johnson overruled the capital’s fire authority to insist on the sale of the former Southwark fire station to developers Hadston for less than the best market price, arguing that the deal would secure a much-needed school for local children.
However the Mayor subsequently used his power to overrule the authority to prevent it from making the sale conditional on the new secondary school being delivered.
Instead of a binding commitment, the contract agreed by Mr Johnson simply requires Hadston to use its “best endeavours” to obtain planning permission for a scheme which includes the school.
Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly says this risks the school not being delivered, despite the Government’s Education Funding Agency belief that the site is the only suitable location for it.
Stephen Knight, a member of both the Assembly and fire authority, said: “I hope this deal does deliver the new school that Southwark pupils so desperately need, however the contract in no way guarantees this outcome.
“Given that the Mayor intervened in the sale of this site for the express purpose of delivering a school, it shows reckless naivety that he refused to allow the fire authority to make the deal conditional on a school being delivered.”
“The Mayor’s stance is simply to hope for the best that a school will be provided, despite the fact that the developer must have a big financial incentive to do the opposite.”
Mr Knight has written to the Mayor during him to adopt a “stronger stance” in future negotiations with developers and ensure that the delivery of any promised local amenities is written into the contract.
A spokesperson for Mr Johnson told MayorWatch: “The Mayor is confident that the developer will fulfil its commitment to build a new school on the site and conversations about funding are already underway with the Education Funding Agency.
“It follows the Mayor saying he would identify potential sites in London for schools to meet the urgent need for more places.”