LBHF object to MDC

Hammersmith & Fulham Council have objected to Boris Johnson’s proposed Mayoral Development Corporation for Old Oak.

The council, which changed administration from Conservative to Labour in the recent elections, has described the proposed MDC as “an anti-democratic land grab”.

The MDC would allow the Mayor of London power to determine planning applications in the area defined by the MDC, which would include the area around the proposed HS2/Crossrail interchange and the whole of the Park Royal estate.

The council say this would let the Mayor “allow the building of properties for overseas speculators rather than homes Londoners can afford”.

The Mayor of London recently launched a consultation on plans to create a Mayoral Development Corporation which would assume planning powers within its borders, which span parts of the north of Hammersmith & Fulham and parts of Brent and Ealing.

Cllr Stephen Cowan, leader of H&F Council, said: “This council objects to an MDC at Old Oak and Park Royal. We are concerned about the Mayor of London’s record on delivering truly affordable homes for Londoners and do not believe he should be entrusted with sole responsibility on a scheme of this importance.

“We are committed to changing housing policies so that we build homes for residents rather than investment properties for overseas speculators and look forward to working with Ealing and Brent councils to do that. There is no good business case for the Mayor to step in.

“In fact, the move in government over the years has been to devolve more powers to local communities not take them away. The Mayor’s proposed organisation is a throwback to decades long gone, it would be un-democratic and unnecessarily takes away powers from local residents and local businesses and essentially hands them over to developers and un-elected bureaucrats.”

Sir Edward Lister, deputy mayor for planning said in response: “The arrival of Crossrail and HS2 represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform Old Oak Common and Park Royal into an entirely new city quarter for London with up to 24,000 new homes and more than 55,000 jobs. The Mayor firmly believes that a Mayoral Development Corporation is the best way to unlock the enormous regeneration potential of the site. He expects that the majority of the new homes will be marketed in this country at the same time as they are marketed abroad so that Londoners have the best chance to reap the huge benefits of the scheme. The Mayor’s Office is already working closely with local businesses, residents and landowners and we look forward to discussing the proposals in more detail with Hammersmith & Fulham Council.”

The public consultation, which runs until September 24, is asking for views on issues such as the proposed boundary, the MDC’s potential planning powers and whether an MDC is the most effective way to deliver the regeneration.

The MDC would be a similar construction to the Olympic Delivery Authority and its successor LLDC, both hailed as extremely successful. Arguably the Olympic facilites would not have been successfully delivered without them.

Park Royal’s position, spread over three boroughs, has meant that a single vision for the area has not been possible. Since the demise of the Park Royal Partnership, and the failure of the Park Royal BID, there has been no voice for the whole estate. The MDC would deliver this, and many businesses on the estate feel this would be a major benefit.

Frank Wingate, CEO of sub-regional chamber of commerce, West London Business, said: “Park Royal, a key manufacturing and business cluster in London’s economy and the largest commercial estate in Europe, has not benefited from having three boroughs administrating it. A Mayoral Development Corporation could bring added consistency and dynamism to planning strategy decisions and is certainly worth looking at closely. The Park Royal Business Group is aiming to meet with MDC representatives shortly.”

The opportunities which would be produced by the major new interchange are massive. The plans currently being discussed would produce space for 75,000 jobs and 10,000 homes. The threat is also large. Park Royal is home to 3,000 companies and 60,000 jobs already. Its contribution to the London, and indeed national, economy is significant, and anything that damaged it would be a disaster for the capital.

There are set to be many discussions over who is in charge of planning. LB Ealing have already won the right to retain planning powers around North Acton station. Hammersmith & Fulham would doubtless seek to bring a stronger emphasis on affordable homes than the Mayor of London might permit.

For the good of the area – which is among the 1% most deprived in the UK – and for West London, it is crucial that authorities work together to deliver a major regeneration, without delay.

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