Sadiq says Boris left Old Oak in a mess

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said that the plans to regenerate Old Oak in West London were left in ‘a mess’ by his predecessor as he announced the findings of his review of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), but lined up squarey behind the project.

Sadiq Khan today gave his full backing for the regeneration of Old Oak, but called on Government to reduce the financial burden that the plans will place on Londoners.

The Mayor criticised his predecessor, Boris Johnson, for ‘rushing headlong’ into an agreement with Government to transfer land at Old Oak that was made on unfavourable terms compared to other major regeneration schemes in the country.

A new High Speed 2 (HS2) and Crossrail Station is due to be constructed at Old Oak Common by 2026. OPDC was established in April 2015 to oversee development for the wider area and has full planning powers within its 650 hectare boundary that includes land in the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent.

Sadiq Khan announced a formal review of OPDC in June.

The review found that a Memorandum of Understanding agreed by Boris Johnson and Government that paved the way for OPDC to take ownership from Government of public land surrounding the proposed new station was “hastily entered into and should have been agreed on more favourable terms”. It says that  there is evidence that a greater level of Government funding has been made available to other areas along the HS2 line. For example, Birmingham will receive significant Government-led investment for a new Metro station.

It also found that the positioning of a Crossrail Depot and maintenance facility in the core development area and the “failures of the previous Mayor either to find a suitable relocation site or to invest in engineering solutions that allow ‘decking’ over the facility” have meant that valuable development land has been lost, land values for adjacent sites depressed and the ability to create an attractive place has been compromised.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including:

  • Sadiq Khan will make a clear case to government that he will only agree to a land deal that is in the best interests of London. He believes the current offer could restrict the amount of genuinely affordable housing at Old Oak.
  • The Mayor should continue to make a strong case to government to provide financial support and devolve further fiscal powers to London to meet the cost of infrastructure, which should not be the capital’s burden alone.
  • Discussions should take place with government to determine if there are parcels of land in the north of Old Oak that can be transferred to the Mayor early and ahead of the main deal being concluded to speed up development.
  • A credible longer-term plan must be put in place for bringing forward a new commercial centre at Old Oak South, and TfL should conduct and present the Mayor with a thorough options appraisal for repositioning or retrofitting the Crossrail depot.
  • A new Chair must be appointed to signal the Mayor’s intent to bring forward development and that residents and businesses should be involved in the planning process.
  • Some OPDC functions should be brought within the Mayor’s proposed new Homes for Londoners organisation.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Old Oak and Park Royal is one of the most important regeneration projects in London but it has been left in a mess by my predecessor.

“We need to make sure the fundamentals are in place now so we get the best deal for Londoners.

“It is clear from this review that Boris Johnson was rushing headlong into agreeing a land deal with Government that was not in the city’s best interests, potentially reducing the amount of affordable housing that can be obtained from the site. I will continue to lobby Government to ensure this scheme meets the needs of the city and that we squeeze every drop of potential out of this opportunity.”

Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, said: “I am delighted that the Mayor has today signalled his ongoing support for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver tens of thousands of new homes and jobs in this part of the capital. I am looking forward to continuing work to deliver the best possible scheme for Londoners.”

OPDC say they will now take time to absorb the report and develop an implementation plan.

Since Sadiq Khan announced this review, in his first three months as Mayor, the pace of development at Old Oak has increased and development to the north of the Grand Union Canal has come forward at a faster rate than expected.

Planning permission for the Oaklands development was granted in August, providing 605 new homes. A target of 50 per cent affordable housing has been agreed with the developer, Genesis Housing Association, and Queens Park Rangers FC following an intervention by the Mayor to boost the number of affordable homes through investment and a profit-sharing mechanism.

In addition, a planning application for the North Kensington Gate development has just been submitted.

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