• Old Oak Common off the mark

The first major redevelopment project in Old Oak Common has been approved by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation. The Oaklands regeneration scheme will deliver 605 homes with a creative hub aimed at attracting tech companies to the area.
The approval comes as a second major proposal for the area goes out to its latest round of consultation, promising 6,500 homes on the Cargiant site. The scheme also suggests two towers of at least 30 storeys, with a further eight blocks at least 20 storeys high.
The approval was granted tot the Oaklands scheme, proposed by Genesis Housing Association and Queens Park Rangers football club, who jointly own the site. Of the 605 homes, 40% will be affordable.
Neil Hadden, chief executive at GHA, said: “We are committed to the future regeneration of Old Oak and partnerships such as the one we have with QPR will enable us to invest, not only in building new homes, but in developing new communities.”
And Tony Fernandes, co-chairman of QPR, added: “This is the start of long term strategic investment for QPR at Old Oak and demonstrates our commitment to the area. Whilst our primary interest is securing the future of the club through the construction of a new stadium, we will only be able to deliver this by taking equity interests in wider regeneration projects such as Oaklands.
“We are continuing to talk to the OPDC about our vision for a new stadium which will have sporting, educational and community facilities that will be used all year round.”
The Cargiant scheme, designated Old Oak Park, aims to develop a 46 acre site, reusing the former Rolls Royce factory on the site and creating a new basin off the Grand Union canal. Geoff Springer, development director, commented: “We want to create a piece of city that benefits all communities — building homes for Londoners, supporting job opportunities, great parks and an incredible canalside environment.”
Cargiant holds the largest privately owned site in the development corporation area, and initial plans for its site talked of 9,000 homes. Despite the proposed tall towers within the revised scheme, housing density has been reigned back and now just 6,500 units are envisaged in a scheme supported by development partners London & Regional.
Cargiant managing director Tony Mendes has previously gone on record, saying: “While we are something of accidental developers, we feel a real sense of responsibility to deliver the homes and jobs that London needs. At Old Oak Park we have a fantastic site with over 1km of canal, what will be the best transport connections in London and the best fibre optic network in the UK – here can create something truly special – a new piece of London.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan will have the option of setting the ultimate seal of approval on the Oaklands project; with his blessing, work could start later this year, for completion in three years. Meantime, Khan has set in course a review of the whole Old Oak Common project, concerned that his predecessor Boris Johnson’s watch may not have entirely covered all aspects of the area appropriately. Khan wants to ensure the development corporation area delivers maximum housing potential, and will be aware of negative publicity already surrounding the planning of key rail works in the area, which some have said will reduce the ability to deliver a new urban centre.

LPA Perspective: Good news all round, as the first scheme before the new planning committee at OPDC gets a clear run, suggesting a sensible approach by developers and a supportive bunch of locals. If the project can proceed onto site quickly, that will give all those involved with Old Oak Common the feeling that this is a project with the will to succeed.
The disappointing revelation that poor planning by railway folk has potentially scuppered an ideal layout for the new urban centre at Old Oak Common, has put a damper on the project. But hopes are high now, that this initial problem can be overcome as the rail project proceeds.
The next challenge will be finding a suitable site for the football club. QPR appears to be lending its support to the wider development of the area, and it would be churlish indeed if space for a suitable new ground could not be found, within the area the club has called home for many years.
The other issue that will really help OPDC gain traction, is mayor Khan’s review of the agreements and processes his predecessor signed up to. This needs completing quickly, to prevent uncertainty from stalling progress.

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