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The Guardian: "The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities"

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" 'I always said you should never trust a bank with property, or a property developer with money,' says Peter Rees. The former chief planner of the City of London should know about such things, having presided over the results of both. Over the last 30 years, he has ushered in a menagerie of their monuments, from the Gherkin and Cheesegrater to the Walkie-Talkie and Heron Tower, during which time he has seen a significant shift in the balance of power. 'When I arrived in the job in the 1980s, the big banks were in control of London,' he says. 'But now it’s the big house-builders. We’ve gone from being ruled by Barclay’s bank to being controlled by Berkeley homes.'

"... Developers have bounced back from the crash with bigger plans than ever before, acquiring vast areas of land with the ambition to operate like the great estates of yore. Framed with the cuddly terminology of “long-term stewardship” and “adding value”, they are merely mimicking those aristocratic fiefdoms, recasting the city as a network of privatised enclaves. The landed families of Grosvenor, Portman and Cadogan have been joined by a breed of corporate giants like Lend Lease, CapCo and Ballymore.

"The latter is overseeing the £2bn transformation of Nine Elms into a high-security zone of luxury flats around the new American embassy, that will apparently 'draw inspiration from the attractive residential and commercial estates which evolved over time in cities like New York and Boston'. CapCo is building its £8bn kingdom across a 30-hectare swathe of Earls Court, while Lend Lease is ruling Elephant and Castle, Argent is reshaping Kings Cross, and most of Victoria is now controlled by Land Securities. The list goes on."

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