Our last open meeting on March 2nd was followed swiftly by an OPDC Board meeting on March 4th. Billed as an important step in the life of the Development Corporation, things did not go according to plan.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader Councillor Steve Cowan explained that he could not vote in favour of immediate submission to the Planning Inspector of the package of Local Plan ‘modifications’ that OPDC officers had prepared.
These detailed tracked changes to a September 2018 version of the Plan have taken OPDC officers 16 months to put together. They attempt to plug the gaps in the the 2018 document resulting from the Inspector’s September 2019 decisions that the Cargiant land must be removed from the Plan – on the basis that compulsory purchase by OPDC was not viable once Cargiant decided to to remain on its existing site.
In recent months, the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum, Grand Union Alliance, and St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum have challenged the basis of the ‘modified’ Draft Local Plan. OPDC claim this is an ‘improved version’. We see it as a less coherent plan than in 2018. Our February 2021 document A PLEA TO THE OPDC PLANNING COMMITTEE.V4 explains why.
Proposals for a new ‘major Old Oak Town Centre’ have become confused, with three separate locations now identified in the Plan as ‘parts of the Major Town Centre’. No new road network is proposed, linking East Acton to Scrubs Lane, until after 21 years. The once planned new Overground stations are not going to happen. The case for ‘transit- oriented high density housing‘ falls away. There will be no vehicle access to the eastern end of a 1km long rail interchange, being built at a cost of £1.3bn for an uncertain number of passengers numbers and due to open a decade hence.
Much of the development proposed in a 20 year Local Plan will not begin to happen in ‘Years 0-5’ (see OPDC map below). Many sites cannot yet be built on, for a host of reasons. The opening of Old Oak Common station is now forecast for 2019-33. We think this gives breathing space to come up with a much better Plan, taking account of all that has happened in London in 2020 and 2021.
We continue to argue that there should be a fallback ‘Plan B’ for the Channel Gate/Atlas Road area. This could be progressed via the neighbourhood planning framework while OPDC had a rethink on Local Plan proposals.
OPDC proposals for ‘part of a major town centre’ and 3,100 new homes at Channel Gate/Atlas Road
Our next OONF and GUA meeting will be on Tuesday 6th April (Easter Monday) at 6.30pm on Zoom.
Old Oak is a part of west London lying at the heart of the UK’s largest urban regeneration project. It is the location of the HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line rail interchange at Old Oak Common station, on which construction started in 2020.
Since April 2015 the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) has been the planning authority for 650 hectares lying within the London Boroughs of Ealing, Brent, and Hammersmith & Fulham. The OPDC is accountable to an appointed board, and ultimately to the Mayor of London.
Because of its future connectivity to the national rail system, Old Oak has been earmarked for many years as one of London’s major ‘opportunity areas’. The rail interchange is seen as a catalyst for high density commercial and residential development, in the same way that the Olympic Park was created as the core of a new part of East London.
Back in 2015, a target of 24,000 new homes at Old Oak was set in the revised London Plan. This target says the same in the 2021 London Plan. Yet during 2020, London’s patterns of travel and working changed out of all recognition during the pandemic. Demand for office space in central London has slumped. No one yet knows how far it will be ‘back to normal’ in 2021 but many believe that aspects of global city life have changed for good.
Much of Old Oak has remained as industrial and railway land, bisected by the Grand Union Canal. In 2015 a group of local residents associations in the area came together as an ‘interim’ neighbourhood forum. Our original aim was to achieve designation of a 280 hectare Old Oak neighbourhood area, and to prepare a neighbourhood plan which would help to integrate the existing residential settlements within and around the edge of the OPDC boundary.
After many months of discussion with the Corporation and with Hammersmith & Fulham Council, both these planning authorities rejected the boundary we had proposed (shown in blue on the map below). In September 2017, the OPDC designated a much reduced 22 hectare are in East Acton (see green boundary below). Hammersmith and Fulham Council designated a separate (but nearby) boundary as the old Oak Estate neighbourhood area (see brown boundary below).
Details of the reasons for these decisions, as published by each authority, can be found here and here. Following a further designation application, the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum was designated in February 2018. This body has the legal powers to prepare a neighbourhood plan for the 22 hectare area that includes the Wesley Estate, the Island site (TITRA railway cottages), Midland Terrace/Shaftesbury Gardens and Wells House Road.
No organisation has yet come forward to apply for designation as an Old Oak Estate Neighbourhood Forum, in Hammersmith & Fulham. This area remains one of two ‘orphan’ neighbourhood areas in the Borough.
The Forum held its inaugural meeting in May 2018. Its membership is open to ‘full members’ (i.e. those who live or work within the 22 hectare boundary) and to ‘affiliate members’ (those who live or work in the wider area).
Please get in touch by emailing email@example.com if you wish to join the Forum as a full member or an ‘affiliated member.’ There is no membership fee to join.
Other pages on this website give more details of who we are and the story so far. These include a second draft of our neighbourhood plan (2020 version).