Wandsworth Council: what conflicts of interest?

1 min read
2

As you might know, Councillors have to fill a form stating their personal interests and declare any potential conflict that could be suspected of altering their decisions during their council’s role.

It is therefore very disturbing to discover the link between the chair of WBC Planning Application Committee (PAC) and large developers, including Minerva, owner of the Ram Brewery site.
Privately, Nick Cuff is said to be employed as a surveyor by Essential Living Management Ltd co # 08034947 (this is from the Wandsworth Register of Interests). On the company’s website however he is labelled as Development Manager.

Essential Living Management Limited is an active business incorporated in England & Wales on 18th April 2012. Their business activity is recorded as ‘Development Of Building Projects’.

essentialliving-bellingerMr Martin John Bellinger, director and partner at Essential Land (an established development company which specialises in the purchase, promotion and delivery of large urban projects), founded Essential Living in 2012 to run and operate a large portfolio of flats (5,000-home built-to-rent drive, making it the first developer of its kind in the UK). The company financial backers include Delancey, with whom they have partnered several high profile developments.

Minerva, which submitted the plan to redevelop the Ram Brewery, was actually taken over by Delancey and private equity group Area Property Partners in 2011; the deal valued Minerva in excess of £200 million.

Therefore, to cut a long story short, the Chair of the Planning Application Committee Cllr Nick Cuff’s employer is a financial partner and works with Delancey/Minerva, which applied for the Ram Brewery redevelopment proposal.

Although there is little doubt that it would have changed the final result of the decision to approve Minerva’s plan, it is surprising that Cllr Cuff does not think it necessary to recuse himself from chairing the PAC that granted the controversial permission.

The funny thing is that Delancey has previously objected to Minerva’s plans for Ram Brewery in 2008, because of its impact on the neighbouring Southside shopping centre, which it owns in partnership with Land Securities. It called for planning conditions to be attached including a ban on any more than 50% of the shops being let to high street brands and stores remaining at a maximum of 27,000 sq ft [source: CoStar Group]. Since they bought Minerva to develop the Ram Brewery site, their view is obviously now completely different 😉 .

PS: You want to see how seriously Wandsworth is considering the declaration of interest? Have a look at this page.
WBC-declaration of interest page

Did you like reading this article? Help us writing more!

CJAG website has been publishing local news for more than 14 years and remains committed to providing local community information and public interest journalism.

We aim to feature as much as possible on community campaigns and initiatives, local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents and helping residents.

We've always done that and won't be changing, in fact we'd like to do more.

Until recently, all stories, analysis and reports published have been made with the great help of many volunteers. However, at the end of the day it cost time and efforts and we are frustrated that we cannot do more: there are many subjects that we would like to cover but we need financial resources to help us providing regular information.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

2 ways of supporting our project

Do you think what we are doing is helping the community and you want to encourage us to do more? We have set up two ways of supporting our project:

  1. Paypal: For one-off contributions, you can just use your bank card. However if you wish to encourage and support us regularly with a small amount, you will need a Paypal account to set up a monthly subscription. Click here to donate.
  2. Patreon: this is a well-known membership platform that connects content creators with supporters. Mainly, it offers financial tools that let supporters subscribe to projects that give creators a predictable income stream as they continue to create content. Click here to subscribe and support us regularly.

If you do support us in this way we'd be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

CJAG News editor and Clapham Junction Action Group co-founder and coordinator since 2008, Cyril has lived in Clapham Junction since 2001.
He is also funder and CEO of Habilis-Digital Ltd, a digital agency creating and managing websites and Internet solutions.

2 Comments

  1. I have pointed this out in writing with regard to planning application 2013/2380 regarding the sale of Elliott School’s playing fields to Barratt Homes for a private housing development of 155 units.
    This is clearly a conflict of interests. It is utterly wrong for someone involved in Land Acquisition to be acting as Chairman of the Planning Application Committee. This matter must be fully investigated, while all pending WBC Planning Applications are suspended.

  2. Thanks for doing this research and exposing Cllr Cuff. Many have suspected collusion between WBC and developers. This demonstrates those suspicions are a reality.

Comments are closed.