Sadiq Khan is looking to the government to renegotiate the terms of a land transfer to the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC). The move is one of a series of actions planned, as he seeks to tidy up a “mess” left by predecessor Boris Johnson.
Other recommendations from the review recently completed are that further central funds are given to the mayor, to improve infrastructure around the development area.This is borne from a feeling that other parts of the UK near the planned HS2 line have done rather better from the central government funding pot. And there is a call for parcels of land to the north to be transferred earlier than planned, to enable development to proceed.
The review also says there needs to be a longer term plan for a new commercial centre at Old Oak South, considering whether it would be sensible to reposition or retrofit the Crossrail depot there. It calls for a new chair to be appointed, and for local residents and businesses to be involved more in the planning process. Finally, there is a call for costs and bureaucracy to be cut, by bringing some OPDC functions within the remit of the new Homes for Londoners organisation.
“We need to make sure the fundamentals are in place now so we get the best deal for Londoners,” said Khan. “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.”
The announcement comes as the first development projects in the area go through the planning process. Two sites in North Kensington Gate are being reviewed, while permission has been granted for the 605 home Oaklands development. There, Genesis Housing Association and Queens Park Rangers yielded to pressure from the mayor and revised their scheme to meet his 50% affordable housing target, involving a profit sharing agreement to help boost numbers.
LPA Perspective: Good luck negotiating with government, Sadiq. This is a new regime taking a hatchet to spending approved by George Osborne, not doling out additional sums. The OPDC deal may just be the best you can get.
We have already heard a public spat about how badly vital rail infrastructure was planned on the site, at a potential cost of many millions in developing a commercial centre over the rail equipment depot that engineers have been allowed to site there. A creative solution is called for, as the proposals to move something already built seem a complete waste.
Meanwhile, the first planning applications are starting to move through the OPDC system – and with Khan’s efforts, featuring more affordable homes than initially thought. Here’s a part of London where development momentum ought to be building.