• Old Oak sets out CIL rates

The Old Oak Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) has revealed its intended Community Infrastructure Levy charges, as it starts to receive further development applications for the west London zone.
The highest proposed rate is £250 per sq metre, for student housing developments. Other general residential is proposed at £175, while retirement housing attracts a lower tariff of £160. Large retail foodstores above 280sq metres are proposed a tariff of £125, with £50 for other retail; offices attract a £70 cost and hotels £80.
Projections suggest that CIL will generate £334.7m from housing, £2.3m from retail and £41.8m from office developments over the Local Plan period.
The authority in its submission notes that it does not see a substantial variation across its patch, and thinks the £175 level for residential CIL “is considered to strike an appropriate balance between ensuring development remains viable whilst contributing towards infrastructure provision.” However, the research suggested that both student and retirement housing are more profitable, and could provide CIL of up to £972 and £633 respectively. But the lower levels set “provide a generous buffer to respect the value these uses can provide to developing communities within the OPDC area.”
Interested parties should make their views known before the end of the consultation period on 25 November. The aim is for the proposed charging schedule to be examined in public during mid 2017, for formal adoption by the end of 2017.
Meanwhile, the OPDC’s planners and decision makers are already getting a flavour of the projects it will need to decide on, with a pair of planning applications to densify development on the east side of Scrubs Lane. Here, both proposals would replace existing low level light industrial units with residential blocks, overlooking St Mary’s Cemetery to the east.
At 115-129a Scrubs Lane, Aurora Developments is proposing three blocks of between 6 and 22 storeys, containing 170 flats, to designs by Allies and Morrison. To the north, at 93-97a Scrubs Lane, blocks of 4 to 11 storeys are planned, providing a further 48 apartments. Of the totals, 30% are proposed as affordable, being a mix that could include discounted units for sale as well as rental units.
Aurora has consulted widely on the two sites, named North Kensington Gate, to ensure their proposals work within the OPDC’s Local Plan framework and guidelines for the wider Old Oak and Park Royal area.

LPA Perspective: According to the OPDC submission, it is being fairly generous, having established that several types of development could, in principle, afford to pay a higher CIL than that set. In particular, the CIL levels look set to encourage the diversity that student living and retirement housing could deliver in the area.
Those with strong development interests in the OPDC area will doubtless lobby hard in the next few months, should they see a particularly harsh outcome from the levels set. And there is always the worry that, while this process is going on, those conducting reviews into the whole CIL structure do not come out with an active proposal to do away completely with the unpopular development tax.
Aurora is gaining first mover advantage, in putting its pair of nearby sites in for planning. The transformation from low level commercial to medium height residential will doubtless transform values, and pave the way for a similar result on the site between the two. The designs are better than average, while OPDC will be seen to be playing its part in getting housing delivered, while larger sites such as Car Giant across the road make their way through the planning process.
However, with Kensington & Chelsea recently moving to protect small local business space, one is left wondering where such businesses along Scrubs Lane can move to. At least Park Royal is not far away.

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