Please support local involvement in OPDC plans

Logo as GIF 2The public consultation on our proposals for an Old Oak neighbourhood forum and neighbourhood plan ended on June 15th 2017.  In September, the OPDC Board and Hammersmith & Fulham Council made their decisions on designation.

The outcome is disappointing and surprisingly defensive by the local planning authorities involved, at a time when neighbourhood planning is widening its reach across London .

The map below is the easiest way to understand a set of decisions which we feel have little justification.

Area designated by OPDC has green boundary. Old Oak Estate designated by LBHF has brown boundary. Original OONF proposed area in blue.
Area designated by OPDC has green boundary. Old Oak Estate designated by LBHF has brown boundary. Original OONF proposed area in blue.

The OPDC Board on September 12th, on recommendations from the OPDC Planning Committee, designated an area of 22 hectares to the west of Wormwood Scrubs.  This includes the residential areas of Wesley Estate, the TITRA ‘railway cottages’, Midland Terrace/Shaftesbury Gardens, and Wells House Road.  It is shown with a green boundary on the above map.

All other parts of the proposed Old Oak neighbourhood area, within the OPDC boundary, have been removed.  This means that OPDC has designated only 11% of the area proposed within its boundary, a highly unusual response to a designation application.  Every landowner/developer who asked in the consultation to have their site excluded from the neighbourhood boundary has had this wish granted. This includes Cargiant/London & Regional Properties and QPR Football Club as well as smaller developers.

The OPDC justification for these decisions can be read here Board report Planning Matters and in many further detailed appendices which can be found at this link to the OPDC website.

An enormous amount of OPDC officer time has been spent in constructing a case to say ‘no’ whereas other London planning authorities say ‘yes’ to neighbourhood areas of similar size and complexity. The numbers responding to the consultation (198 on a total revised by OPDC/LBHF) with 162 (82%) supporting the proposed wider area of 280 hectares) is very high for designation applications in London.

Hammersmith and Fulham’s response to the OONF proposals has been to designate only the Old Oak Estate, as a separate ‘Old Oak Estate Neighbourhood Area’ for which no application has been made.  The justification for this action is even weaker than for the OPDC decisions.

This means that the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum cannot include the Old Oak Estate in a neighbourhood plan, as any one designated forum can cover only one designated area.  So the neighbourhood area will remain an ‘orphan’ neighbourhood unless and until some other ‘qualifying body’ comes forward and applies for designation to prepare a neighbourhood plan for the estate.

Meanwhile, residents of LBHF in College Park and Woodmans Mews have seen their areas removed from the boundary proposed by OONF.  Hence no opportunity to include policies and site allocations for these own areas.

Decisions by OPDC to remove Wormwood Scrubs as a ‘strategic site’ and by LBHF to remove Linford Christie Stadium means that an Old Oak Neighbourhood Plan cannot include policies for these areas, the future of which is a bog concern for local people.  A neighbourhood plan can advocate and make suggestions on issues outside the designated boundary, but these will have no statutory force and will not be part of OPDC and LBHF Local Plans.

Quite why OPDC and LBHF have felt the need to be so defensive, when neighbourhood plan policies are required to ‘generally conform’ with a Local Plan, is not clear.  The extent to which these decisions have been officer-led, or led by OPDC Board members and LBHF councillors will no doubt surface as the weeks go by.

This position as of September 2017 is unlikely to be the end of the story on designation.  The 2017 Neighbourhood Planning Act (which had cross-party support in Parliament) opens up some new avenues for varying the boundary of neighbourhood areas, once all of its new measures are in force.

Please get in touch by emailing oonforum@gmail.com if you have views on these decisions or wish to join the Interim Forum.  We are conscious that there are many people locally who sent in supportive responses to the consultation designation, for whom we do not have contact information other than a name on an OPDC schedule of 198 responses.

 

There is no membership fee to join the forum.  If you are interested but live or work outside the newly designated (and much reduced) boundary, you are welcome to join although you will not have a vote at the eventual referendum.  To join, please get in touch at oonforum@gmail.com (and give us your street address and postcode.  Your house or flat number is not needed).

Background information

Since April 2015, the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) has has had planning powers for the area within the red boundary on the map below.   This body is overseen by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London.

Blue line shows proposed boundary of Old Oak neighbourhood area

The chair of the OPDC Board is Liz Peace CBE.  The Board includes the Leaders of the Boroughs of Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham along with a number of appointed members.

Current plans for a future Old Oak involve 24,500 new homes being built in the next couple of decades.  In Old Oak and neighbouring Park Royal, 55,000 new jobs are due to be created.

The OPDC is in the final stages of preparing a new Local Plan for Old Oak and Park Royal.  A first round of public consultation took place in early 2016.  A second round started on June 29th, and ended on September 11th 2017.  Details of the Draft Local Plan and the consultation exercise are at this link.

Neighbourhood forums are granted powers under the 2011 Localism Act to prepare a neighbourhood plan for their area.   When completed, these plans are voted on at a local referendum.  If supported by a majority of those voting, the policies in a neighbourhood plan become part of the statutory development plan for the area.  Future planning decisions then have to be in accordance with these policies.

The interim forum has worked hard over the last 2 years to build relationships with the OPDC, and with the major developers in the area.  OPDC now say they wish to set up a consultative body with local residents.  This has a hollow ring when the Corporation has chosen to deny local people the one avenue created by Parlisment, via the 2011 Localism Act, for serious involvement and engagement in planning the future of their areas.

We want the existing communities at Old Oak to be integrated successfully in what will be a whole new part of London.  We want the best examples of successful urban living across Europe to be followed.  We also want lessons to be learned from past unsuccessful regeneration projects in the UK.  The OPDC claims to want the same.  But when it comes to real ‘engagement’ of local people, its actions speak far louder than its words.

Other pages on this website give more details of who we are, the story so far, and the OPDC Local Plan.