London

Mayor to probe Ministry of Sound planning row

Ministry of Sound interior
Image caption Ministry of Sound is a leading name in dance music

The Mayor of London has stepped in to adjudicate on a controversial planning application opposed by the Ministry of Sound nightclub.

The world-famous club in Elephant and Castle, south-east London, has been trying to prevent the building of a block of flats across the road.

Club bosses fear noise complaints from residents could force its closure.

Southwark Council originally refused planning permission but Boris Johnson has now called the decision in.

The Liberal Democrat councillors who threw out the plan had faced criticism after it emerged their party accepted tens of thousands of pounds in donations from the club.

The councillors had not declared the donations at the meeting.

Both Labour councillors and the developer Oakmayne were unaware of the size and scale of the donations until they were revealed by the BBC.

It also emerged that the council's in-house lawyer had warned councillors they may be in breach of the law by not declaring the gifts.

Both Ministry of Sound and the Lib Dems have insisted their actions were above board.

In a letter to the council, seen by the BBC, Mr Johnson wrote: "Having considered a report on this case, I hereby direct that I will act as local planning authority for the purposes of determining the planning application.

"I would be grateful if you provide me any information relevant to the application."

Oakmayne Chairman Christopher Allen said: "We are delighted with this decision, as we are confident that our proposals to help regenerate Elephant and Castle align with the government's aspirations for brownfield sites to be developed to help provide desperately needed affordable homes and jobs.

"We are already building 350 homes nearby, along with a five screen cinema and major new supermarket, and see no reason why Eileen House should not be able to contribute to the area's regeneration.

"The homes will be priced for ordinary Londoners, and the jobs created and our £4m community contribution will benefit local people and services."

Lohan Presencer, chief executive of Ministry of Sound, said: "We are very surprised at this news.

"It seems a very unusual development.

"We have yet to speak directly today to the mayor's office in order to better understand the detail of this latest development."

A Southwark Council spokeswoman said the authority stood by its previous position, maintaining that that the decision was arrived at properly.

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