Oaklands kicks off

James Murray, the Deputy Mayor of London and Liz Peace CBE, the Chairman of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) have officially started construction on the first homes at Old Oak.

The two joined Queens Park Rangers and Genesis Housing Association who are demolishing a derelict hostel that will make way for a new West London neighbourhood consisting of 605 new homes, including a high proportion (40%) of affordable homes. They are the first homes that will be built at Old Oak and Park Royal and will start the transformation of the area.

QPR had acquired a few pieces of land in the area when they were hoping to build a new stadium there. They have now switched that focus to the Linford Christie stadium, south of Wormwood Scrubs, and are looking to develop their land holdings in Old Oak in line with OPDC plans to provide funding for that new stadium.

Speaking at the event to mark this important milestone, James Murray, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing and Residential Development, said: “The regeneration of Old Oak and the surrounding area represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver thousands of genuinely affordable homes for Londoners.

“The opportunities are immense and complicated, almost every public sector agency you could think of is involved.”

He was keen to say that Old Oak is not just about homes, but also about jobs and employment space.

Liz Peace CBE, Chairman of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, who describer herself as very excited, said: “Today’s ground-breaking marks the start of early-delivery of hundreds of affordable homes for Londoners and the community in west London. This first major scheme granted consent by OPDC and the Mayor paves the way to creating a place where people will want to live, work, spend their leisure time and bring up their families.”

She continued: “It’s a very significant moment, to do something like this that demonstrates how serious you are says “this is it”. It’s the beginning of a swathe of early development. We will show that we can build a brilliant place.”

Designed by CZWG Architects, the £175 million Oaklands scheme is being developed by QPR and Genesis Housing Association. The scheme will also provide the start of an important new link road from Old Oak Common Lane into the wider regeneration area, enabling neighbouring sites to be developed, including other sites that Genesis and QPR hope to bring forward.

Dipesh J. Shah OBE, Chair of Genesis Housing Association, said: “The Oaklands development is very important to Genesis. We are committed to providing homes for people who need it at price points that are accessible. The Oaklands community will have a mix of housing products within it, including social rent, affordable rent, shared ownership, and market rent. Through this mix we believe we will create a sustainable and thriving community.”

Tony Fernandes, Chairman of QPR FC, explained why the football club is involved in the regeneration partnership. He will say, “We are delighted to be working with Genesis to develop the Oaklands site. The fact that we are creating 600 homes for Londoners, including many affordable homes, ten years in advance of HS2 shows that there is plenty that can be achieved at Old Oak well before the new high speed line is finished.

“We own other sites in Old Oak and want to bring them forward as quickly as possible to create the homes and affordable homes that London desperately needs. I know the Mayor and the Government both share this aim, and have made funding available to pay for infrastructure that would lead to additional early housing development. A bridge from Willesden Junction to the north of Old Oak is exactly the kind of infrastructure that could do this, and we want to work closely with them to make it happen.

“All this development will help to alleviate London’s housing crisis, as well help us achieve our ultimate goal, which is to secure the future of QPR in West London through the construction of a new stadium with sporting, community and educational facilities that are used all year round.”

He added: “It’s a thrill to see our Community Trust working with apprentices on the scheme. They want to create more jobs in this area for QPR fans, and we hope to build more homes for QPR fans to live in, although of course fans of other clubs would be welcome too!”

Jack Kelley of the QPR Community Trust explained their programme of working with 18-24 year old NEETs, young offenders, ex-military and people with learning difficulties, where they assist with skills development and provide a year of follow on support, helping people find and keep work.

James Stewart, who benefitted from help from the trust, was on hand too to explain how it had helped him get a job as a Land Surveyor with Plowman Craven, leading to him doing some early work on the Oaklands scheme.

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