Changes at the OPDC and a new Community Review Group

New members for the OPDC Board and Planning Committee

The Development Corporation has ‘refreshed’ the membership of its Board and Planning Committee.  A press release at this link gives the details.

When Liz Peace took on the role of chair of the Board, she made clear that she wanted more people on the Board with experience of London’s development industry.


The OPDC press release starts by saying The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has appointed nine leading industry experts to join the Board and Planning Committee.

Mini biographies of those newly appointed can be seen at a separate page on the OPDC website at this link.   We local residents and businesses can form our own conclusions on whether these individuals are the right people to be progressing the next stages of regeneration and development at Old Oak.

The Board membership continues to include the Leaders of the three councils from the area where the Development Corporation has been the planning authority since April 2015 (the Boroughs of Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham).  This is the sole element of democratic accountability on the Board.  All other members (the majority) are appointed by the Mayor.

Members of the Board who have served a three year term, and who have not been re-appointed, include Eric Sorensen and Amanda Souter.

Amanda is the longstanding chair of the Wells House Residents Association.   She has been active for several years in trying to extract information from HS2 on the details of their plans.  Since 2015 she has been one of several people active locally in representing to the OPDC the views of those who live and work in and around the OPDC area.

Amanda applied to join the OPDC Board back in 2015, and was appointed with a clear brief as the ‘community representative’ on the Board.   In the recent appointment process for Board members, she re-applied but her candidacy was rejected.   It appears from the interview process that her knowledge and experience of the development and property world was not sufficient to qualify her as a ‘leading industry expert’.

The new board has no designated community representative.  Two of the new Board members have a connection with the local area (one living within it and another working within it).   It remains to be seen to what extent they feel they should be feeding into the Board the views and ideas of those whose lives will be most affected by the next two decades of development at Old Oak.

This change in the Board’s composition is striking, given that the 2016 Review of the OPDC commissioned by Sadiq Khan specifically recommended that Support for business and community Board members must be provided to enable them to properly represent their constituent groups.   Two years on, the OPDC’s response has been to abolish the community representative position altogether.

Changes on the OPDC Planning Committee

Membership of the OPDC Planning Committee has also changed.   Four councillors from the three Boroughs remain as members (with two from Hammersmith, this being the area most affected by new development).  Will McKee remains as chair, with three independent members (Gordon Adams continuing, and Karen Cooksley and Sandra Fryer as new members).   Mini biographies are at this link.

The chair of the Planning Committee has a casting vote on the Planning Committee.  So even if all four elected councillors vote against a specific planning application, this is no guarantee of refusal.

Past efforts to achieve more local input on planning decisions

During two years of discussion and negotiation with OPDC officers (including a presentation to the Planning Committee) our ‘interim’ neighbourhood forum made the case for the eastern part of the OPDC area to be designated as a ‘neighbourhood area’ under the 2011 Localism Act.  The boundary that we proposed, after many meetings of the forum, included the residential areas of College Park and the Old Oak Estate, in north Hammersmith, along with the site of the Linford Christie Stadium on Wormwood Scrubs.

The decisions made on our application, by the OPDC Planning Committee and Board and by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, shrunk the proposed neighbourhood area from 190 hectares an area of 22 hectares in East Acton ward of LB Ealing.  This was despite a 6 week public consultation in which a sizable majority supported our original proposals.

The Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum was formally designated by the OPDC in February 2018.  Our efforts since then have focused on responding to further consultation on the OPDC Draft Local Plan (see below and previous posts).

The new OPDC Community Review Group

The OPDC has taken a new tack in recent months, by setting up a ‘Community Review Group’ which will review proposed developments at pre-application stage.

This is welcome step towards greater involvement of local people in the design of new developments.  The new group will operate alongside to the Place Review Group which OPDC already uses to seek views on planning applications from selected planning and architectural professionals.

The Community Review Group is made up of 12 people who responded to an OPDC advertisement this summer.  This Handbook explains how the Group will work and lists its membership.

This is a novel form of public involvement in the planning process, and there are questions to be asked about the relative weight to be given to the views of the Group, as compared with representations on applications submitted by individuals or community organisations such as this Forum.

Latest on the OPDC Draft Local Plan

This Draft Local Plan has yet to be ‘examined in public’ by a Planning Inspector.  No date has yet been fixed for this public hearing.   This is the last stage in the process of plan preparation, after which the final version (as modified by the Inspector) will be adopted by the Development Corporation.  The Plan’s policies and site allocations will then be applied when planning applications are decided.

The Forum continues to believe that the OPDC Draft Local Plan has many flaws.  The most fundamental of these flow from the over-ambitious and unrealistic targets for housing and jobs that have remained fixed in the Plan since the publication of a first version in February 2016.

These targets were first set in a 2015 review of the London Plan.  Very little evidence to support them was provided at that stage, but the OPDC has treated them as set in stone.

Much else changed in the second ‘Regulation 19’ Local Plan submitted by the OPDC to the Secretary of State.   It has become clear that development of a ‘Canary Wharf of the West’ and a major commercial office and retail hub above and around the HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line station is not feasible with the ‘plan period’ of 2018-2038

So forget large parts of the glossy videos and inter-active maps of the original ‘vision’ for ‘Old Oak South’ and ‘Old Oak High Street’ which we were shown over the past two years.  The focus now is on the Cargiant land as the first phase of likely significant development, and a new ‘Park Road’ between Scrubs Lane and the Oaklands housing development being built by Genesis/QPR on Old Oak Lane.

This image below is the latest that has become available of the OPDC ‘masterplan’ as seen looking eastwards from above North Acton.

OPDC masterplan 2018 showing revised proposals for Old Oak South
OPDC masterplan 2018 showing revised proposals for Old Oak South

The target of a minimum of 25,500 new homes  at Old Oak/Park Royal remains set in the new Draft London Plan, prepared by London Mayor Sadiq Khan over the past 18 months.  This new Plan will undergo an Examination in Public with public hearings in January – May 2019.  There are many London-wide bodies which will be questioning these targets at the hearings, and OONF is liaising with these.

Meanwhile the number of planning applications for major schemes on sites within the OPDC area has diminished over the past year, reflecting the current weak state of the London property market (commercial and residential).  There are no new applications to be considered by the OPDC Planning Committee at its 10th December meeting.

Proposed schemes in Scrubs Lane (‘North Kensington Gate’ and ‘Mitre Yard’) now have full planning permission granted.  Both are listed as ‘not commenced’ in the Planning Committee agenda, along with Imperial College’s scheme for student housing at the former Perfume Factory.  The scheme at 2 Scrubs Lane, previously approved, is back in pre-application discussions.

For the very major scheme for 6,500 new homes at Old Oak Park (the Cargiant/London & Regional Properties landholding) the status update as reported to the Planning Committee is Pre-application discussions expected to recommence shortly.  This has been the case for the past year.







Autumn 2018 update on OPDC proposals

During 2018, the Board of the OPDC has found it necessary to make significant changes to its plans.   Responses to the consultation on its 19.1 Draft Local Plan, as submitted by HS2, Transport for London, and major landowners identified insuperable obstacles to early development of ‘Old Oak South’ (the area around the planned HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line interchange).

As a result, any plans and policies for this part of the OPDC area have been removed from the version of the Local Plan as submitted to the Secretary of State in October 2018.   The focus for early development is now on ‘Old Oak North’, the area made up of the Cargiant/London and Regional Properties landholding along with Scrubs Lane.

This is the area for which a consortium commissioned by OPDC (and led by AECOM) has been carrying out detailed masterplanning.  This work has included costing of major infrastructure proposals and testing of transport routes and development capacity.

The public were originally told that information on this masterplanning exercise would be made available in late 2017.  No such information has emerged, albeit that some of the results of the AECOM work have been fed into one of the ‘supporting studies’ for the Local Plan.

This is a document entitled Old Oak North Development Framework Principles.   As a ‘supporting study’ the document offers ‘planning guidance’ but does not form part of the draft statutory development plan.  But as we have found with the previous ‘Development Principles’ document for Scrubs Lane, the OPDC Planning Committee will no doubt treat these ‘principles’ as ’emerging policy’ and will place reliance on them when deciding planning applications at Old Oak North.

The section of this document dealing with development capacity (page 47) explains that the masterplan work identifies a total development capacity of 7,300 news homes and 73,000 sqm (Net Internal Area) of economic floorspace.  It goes on to say The development capacity of Old Oak North will result in the delivery of a range high densities across this place. The average density will be 600 units per hectare. This will vary across the place in response to public transport access, sensitive locations and site specific circumstances. These densities are of a scale that have only recently been delivered in London and will contribute to the form of a new London typology.

The reference to densities of a scale only recently delivered in London we believe to relate to the Isle of Dogs and parts of the Vauxhall/Nine Elms area.  The St George Wharf Tower in Vauxhall is one of the tallest residential buildings in London today (at 50 storeys and 181 metres height).  The Landmark Pinnacle residential tower at Canary Wharf (under construction) will be 75 storeys.

Six of the tallest residential buildings in Western Europe with planning permission are due to appear in the Isle of Dogs, Blackwall and South Poplar Opportunity Area (a Mayoral OA, as is the OPDC area).

From Landmark Pinnacle marketing brochure, Canary Wharf
From Landmark Pinnacle marketing brochure, Canary Wharf

Is this the ‘new London typology’ of built forms now due to arrive at Old Oak North?   Is this what west Londoners have asked for, in consultation responses on the OPDC Local Plan?

The proposals for ‘Old Oak Park‘ as consulted on by Cargiant/London & regional Properties in 2015 and 2016, did not involve buildings of this height.  In several meetings with London and Regional Properties and their design team, we were told that there might be a few towers of around 40 storeys and the remainder of the housing at lower heights.

The residential towers granted permission to date by OPDC in Scrubs lane are in the 20-25 storey range.   The Imperial College tower in Wood Lane, at 35 storeys, is the one and only very tall building in this part of London to date.

The final draft of the OPDC Local Plan provides very little information on building heights.   The whole plan is premised on ‘transit oriented high density living’ in order to achieve a 25,000 housing target set (with very little analysis) back in 2015.   But anyone reading through all the plan documentation will find nothing that provides an honest assessment of likely building heights.

OPDC draft policies state simply that ‘tall buildings’ will be ‘appropriate’ at certain locations.   Even the specific separate Tall Buildings Statement says Identifying general heights of tall buildings is not considered to be appropriate at this time.   Given that the Draft Local Plan has now been signed off by the OPDC Board and submitted to Government, it is not clear what other moment will be more ‘appropriate’ for some honesty and openness on this issue.

CGI image of Cargiant's proposals for Old Oak Park
CGI image of Cargiant’s proposals for Old Oak Park

Cargiant/London & Regional Properties have had their masterplanning work on hold for many months (their last public consultation was in July 2016).   How they now view the prospects for development of their landholding remains to be seen.   No construction work has started on the three major developments approved by OPDC in Scrubs Lane (North Kensington Gate, Mitre Yard, and 2 Scrubs Lane).  The London property market is flat at best, and falling in parts of Hammersmith and in Kensington.

Once the dates are known for the Examination in Public of the OPDC Local Plan, the Forum will be meeting to prepare our evidence.  OPDC decisions attract little London-wide public attention at present, and the EIP should provide a focus for wider interest and debate on the future of this part of London.

















Our response to the OPDC Local Plan 19.2 consultation

Between 14 June and 30 July, OPDC consulted on a revised version of its Draft Local Plan.

It is unusual for a Local Plan to need to be consulted on for a third time.  The range and number of changes that OPDC had to make to its 2017 ‘Regulation 19’ version were such that a further round of public consultation was required.

Our previous posts on the Draft Local Plan and on ‘how the key players responded’ explain the outcome of the 2017 round of consultation.  OPDC planners have had to make substantial revisions to their proposals. The most significant of these is that Local Plan policies for ‘Old Oak South’ are not expected to take effect within the 2018-38 ‘plan period’.

This area, north of Wormwood Scrubs, is to be the location for the HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line rail interchange, due for completion in 2026.  The original OPDC 2015 ‘vision’ saw this ‘place’ as the commercial heart of a new part of London.   But the constraints of existing rail infrastructure, including newly built depots, means that development is no longer seen as viable for a further 20 years.

The Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum has long argued the case for use of the neighbourhood planning framework as a vehicle for creating planning policies and site allocations that can be adjusted to changed circumstances.  The infrastructure costs of regeneration at Old Oak are such that funding through planning obligation receipts (CIL and S106) will never be sufficient to resource all OPDC ambitions.  Major uncertainties remain as to how regeneration and new transport infrastructure can be financed.

We believe that planning for the area should be more evolutionary and incremental, and will need more frequent review and updating than for most Local Plans.  OPDC did not share our view that designation of a 280 hectare Old Oak neighbourhood area could have achieved a more responsive planning process.

We think that Old Oak needs some realistic ‘meanwhile’ policies and site allocations, and a  strong element of co-design with the existing local communities in the area.   Brexit, a faltering London housing market, and the potential competing construction demands of Heathrow expansion, are all good reasons for avoiding an over-prescriptive and ultra high density Local Plan for Old Oak.  Yet the 19.2 OPDC Local Plan heads relentlessly in this direction.

A copy of the Forum’s consultation response to the OPDC 19.2 Draft Local Plan can be downloaded here OONF response to Regulation 19.2 OPDC Local Plan.   OPDC intend to submit their finalised Plan to the Secretary of State in autumn 2018, with the Examination in Public held during the winter of 2018.  Adoption of the Plan is scheduled for early 2019.

Our response to the Draft London Plan

The Mayor of London has been consulting on the proposed new London Plan.  This will replace the current version, which was prepared and subsequently updated during the Boris Johnson Mayoralty.

The new version includes many good policies, but has a strong focus on ‘intensification’ of development across London and especially in Opportunity Areas.  It sticks to the 2012 target of 24,500 new homes on land at Old Oak.   This target has become increasingly unrealistic, as major infrastructure obstacles surface in relation to OPDC proposals for ‘Old Oak South’ (the area around the planned HS2 station).

The new London Plan says even less than the current version about neighbourhood planning.   It repeats familiar Mayoral statements about the needs to involve Londoners in the planning process, while ignoring the one route that Parliament has introduced  to enable local people to have any real influence on Local Plans.

The response from the Forum can be seen here OONF response to London Plan.V4.

Update on the OPDC Local Plan and Old Oak masterplan

OPDC planning officers (Tom Cardis and Peter Farnham) gave an update on what the Development Corporation has been doing, at a session in Harlesden on February 8th.   There was some important news, summarised below:

On the Draft Local Plan

  • There were 119 responses to the OPDC consultation last summer, on the Draft Local Plan. Following the efforts of OONF to see these responses published (see previous post ) a schedule of all responses has been made available at this link on the OPDC website.
  • A number of the key responses, including from HS2, Transport for London, and the Mayor of London, set out major concerns with the Regulation 19 Draft Plan. A range of draft OPDC policies are considered not to be ‘sound’ and to require revision before a final Draft Plan is submitted to the Secretary of State.  (The full response letters from HS2, the Mayor and TfL were published via links in our January post)
  • OPDC planning officers are continuing to amend the Draft Local Plan. The extent of changes and revisions means that it is likely (but not definite) that there will need to be a further round of public consultation on ‘major modifications’ to the 2017 version.  This consultation will probably happen in mid 2018, with submission to the Secretary of State in the autumn.
  • This delay will give the OPDC longer to take account of new policies proposed in the new Draft London Plan, currently out to public consultation until March 2nd 2018.
  • Among the responses submitted last summer, there are a number from landowners and developers, promoting particular approaches and policies for specific sites. These include detailed proposals from Raban Goodhall for a mixed use development immediately north of Goodhall Street (in the TITRA area and within the boundary of the designated Old Oak Neighbourhood Area).
  • Responses submitted last September from the Grand Union Alliance, Hammersmith Society, OONF, Harlesden Neighbourhood Forum and many individual residents are detailed, well argued, and take a broadly consistent line. It will be very hard for OPDC to ignore these comments.

It is already clear that major revisions are being made to the Regulation 19 Draft Plan as a result of views expressed by local people, as well as by major stakeholders such as HS2 and Transport for London.  Significant changes include:

  • Recognition that plans for Old Oak South (the areas around the proposed HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line interchange) remain highly uncertain at present. While the prospect of ‘overdecking’ the main station ‘remains on the table’, HS2 make very clear in their own response that their remit is to construct a rail station with natural ventilation.
  • No funding is yet committed for decking over the rail interchange or providing artificial ventilation to the rail interchange below.
  • Hence the ‘vision’ of very high density 40-60 storey towers at the heart of a new Old Oak (i.e. a Canary Wharf of the West as shown in the Boris Johnson 2015 OPDC Opportunity Area Planning Framework) is by no means a certainty.
The original 2015 'vision' for Old Oak
The original 2015 ‘vision’ for Old Oak
  • Old Oak North (the Cargiant/London Regional Property site) remains the area identified for early development (i.e. the next 10 years). Scrubs Lane and Victoria Road likewise.
  • Transport for London have asked that the proposed two new Overground Stations, at Hythe Road and at Old Oak Common Lane, be referred to as ‘potential’ new stations.  No funding source has yet been identified for these projects.
  • Less emphasis is being placed on the proposed ‘Old Oak High Street’  because of the very high infrastructure costs of bridging rail lines and the Grand Union Canal.
  • The next version of the Local Plan will be more explicit about housing densities, the location of tall buildings, and what OPDC define as a ‘tall building’ (the absence of such information in the Regulation 19 Draft was one of the main complaints of OONF and other respondents).
  • On affordable housing, the next version of the Local Plan will take into account the Mayor’s ‘threshold’ of 35% affordable housing, for schemes where developers wish to avoid submission of detailed financial viability assessments.
  • OPDC are looking to achieve 25% ‘family homes’ (i.e. 3 bed plus) with a split of 30% social housing and 70% intermediate housing tenure.
  • The existing West London Waste Plan and present locations of major waste sites in the Old Oak area are a further complication.

The Old Oak masterplan

A masterplan for the Old Oak part of the OPDC area is being prepared by the consortium led by AECOM.  The clients for this work are a separate department of the OPDC, acting as a developer of the large swathes of public land involved.

Little information about this masterplan is yet in the public domain.  Some form of public engagement process is expected in early summer.

A key document emerging from this masterplanning exercise will be an updated Development Capacity study for. This will test the realism of the 24,500 housing target set for Old Oak.  The adequacy of the existing  evidence base for this target (which dates from the 2015 Further Alterations to the London Plan) was a question picked up strongly in responses from OONF and others to the Regulation 19 Draft Plan.

The new London Plan sets an increased annual housing target for the OPDC area, from 1,100 units per annum to 1,360 units.   Whether this proves at all realistic will depend on future (and uncertain) demand within the London housing market and the rate at which major developers such as Cargiant/London & Regional, and QPR/Genesis, choose to build out their schemes.

Opportunities for future community engagement

The Great Place Scheme involves a widening group of local organisations and individuals.  OPDC has been awarded almost £1.5 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will be used to enhance the role that arts, culture and heritage plays in the future of the area.

A Local Heritage Listings consultation runs until 22nd March, giving people an opportunity to identify buildings for local listing.  Listings do not benefit from statutory protection from demolition but they do assist OPDC in identifying non-designated heritage assets. This ensures that the conservation of a non-designated asset is a material consideration in determining planning applications.

OPDC will be setting up a Community Design Review Group, which will involve local people in providing input on proposed developments, alongside the existing Place Review Group managed by CABE.  No details are yet available on how this new group will be formed.

OPDC Draft Local Plan – how key players responded

Public consultation on the Regulation 19 OPDC Local Plan ended last September.  Since then news has emerged that the timetable for publication of a final version of the Draft Plan (for submission to the Secretary of State) has slipped to May/June 2018.

OPDC has not so far published the responses to its consultation last summer.  Given this delay, we asked to see those responses which had been submitted by the main statutory agencies involved, and by landowners and developers.   Otherwise it would have been nearly a year before local people could know how these various bodies had responded to the proposals that OPDC published in June 2017.

Copies of the responses as provided to us can be downloaded from the links below.  These documents were submitted as part of a public consultation exercise, so are in the public domain.  They demonstrate that there are several aspects of the OPDC Draft Local Plan which will need a rethink, particularly around the proposed HS2 station in ‘Old Oak South’ .

There were 119 responses in all to the OPDC Regulation 19 Local Plan consultation.  These includes responses from community groups (including this forum), amenity societies, and individuals.  A report to the OPDC Board in November 2017 gives a summary of the issues raised, and a link to this report is in the list below.

One important response is not yet available.  This is from Cargiant/London & Regional Properties.  We understand that their original response included some errors which are being revised.

Response from Mayor of London and TfL

Response from TfL Commercial division

Response from HS2

Response from HGH Planning on behalf of QPR

Response from LIchfields on behalf of Citrus Group and Fullers Ltd

Response from Deloitte on behalf of Diageo Ltd

Response from Turley on behalf of Ashur Centaur

Response from Savills on behalf of Osbourne Investments and Quattro Holdings

Response from Boyer on behalf of Raban Goodhall Ltd

Response from GRID on behalf of Raban Goodhall Ltd

Response from DP9 on behalf of PPHE Hotels Group

OPDC Board report November 2017

Please email us at if you have any views or thoughts on how these responses might affect future plans for Old Oak.

TfL consultation on Overground stations

Transport for London (TfL) are holding a public consultation on proposals for two new Overground stations at Old Oak.  The consultation is a short one, lasting from 16th October to 17th November 2017.

The details are at this link

The locations of these proposed new stations were consulted on back in 2014, in the early days of plans for Old Oak.  The stations are intended to provide an interchange for passengers between the HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) station at Old Oak Common and the London Overground network.

This interchange will be less than ideal, as neither Overground station will be adjacent to the main station (the Hythe Road station will involve a 700m walk between the two).  The business case for each station is still being developed and there is as yet no certainty on sources of funding.

Overground locations

The proposals for the Old Oak Common Lane station are not going down well with residents in the immediate vicinity.  The ‘visualisations’ suggest a 4 storey office block at the top of Midland Terrace and an elevated pedestrian/cycle bridge across to Victoria Road.  The impact on neighbouring houses would be huge.

The preferred option for a Hythe Road station involves a new station and railway viaduct to the north of the existing embankment. The existing embankment would be removed, opening up access between the north and southern parts of Cargiant’s 43 acres – destined to become ‘Old Oak Park’ with 6,500 new homes.

The Old Oak Interim Neighbourhood Forum will be submitting a response to the consultation.  Please email if you would like your views reflected in the Forum’s response.

Closed minds

In the run up to the September 2017 decisions made by the OPDC Planning Committee, OPDC Board, and Hammersmith & Fulham Cabinet, we tried to make decision-makers aware that they were ignoring Government guidance on neighbourhood planning, as well as the very clear outcome of the public consultation on our proposals for an extensive Old Oak neighbourhood area.

Concerns over the Hammersmith & Fulham Council decisions

Our letter to members of the Hammersmith & Fulham Cabinet can be read here OONF letter to LBHF Cabinet.V4.  This includes a detailed annexe setting out why we think that the decisions recommended by officers were unjustified.  The inaccurate information about responses from the Old Oak Friends and Residents Association is a particular concern.

Unlike other London Boroughs, Hammersmith & Fulham still does not seem to understand the basics of neighbourhood planning.  As on a previous occasion in 2012, the Council’s response has been one of minimal compliance with the 2011 Localism Act by designating a much smaller area than that proposed, and one that nobody has applied for.

In designating a separate neighbourhood area, the Council has also frustrated the expressed wishes of those respondents to the consultation who wished to see Wormwood Scrubs, the Old Oak Estate, the Linford Christie Stadium, Woodman Mews, Scrubs Lane and College Park as part of a coherent wider neighbourhood area.

Concerns over the OPDC decisions 

OPDC officers have devoted an enormous amount of time and energy in finding reasons to justify removing 89% of the 280 hectare neighbourhood area originally proposed in the OONF designation application.  This was after 18 months of discussion on the proposed boundary.

A letter was sent to OPDC Board members from the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum, prior to the Board’s final decision on September 12th.  A copy can be read here StQW to OPDC on OONF designation. Sept 2017.

The principle applied by OPDC officers, that parts of a neighbourhood area have to show uniform or consistent characteristics to be ‘appropriate’ for designation, is entirely novel.  Nowhere else across England has this approach been applied, in the 2,000 or so neighbourhood areas designated to date.

London already has several neighbourhood areas as large as the 280 hectares proposed at Old Oak, and ones that include brownfield land, railway infrastructure, Opportunity Areas, open spaces of London-wide significance, and other features which OPDC officers seem to think should be classed as ‘diverse character areas’ and hence ‘inappropriate’ for inclusion as part of a single designated neighbourhood.

The attitude of both these local planning authorities is proving to be very defensive and negative.  Significant and sustained efforts by local residents to contribute to the planning of a future Old Oak have been rebuffed.

Both bodies are offering meetings to discuss alternative forms of ‘dialogue’ and ‘engagement’.  But this is not the same thing as granting local people what is now a widely accepted and meaningful role in the planning process, through preparation of a neighbourhood plan.

Parliament introduced neighbourhood plans in 2011 as ‘powerful tools’ for local communities to influence what sort of development takes place in their area (within clearly defined limits).  The OPDC and Hammersmith & Fulham Council appear to have taken fright at this prospect.  This does not bode well for creating a successful and sustainable new part of London.


Mitre Yard development – will OPDC respect Hammersmith & Fulham views?

The planning application for the development pictured below is due to be considered by the OPDC Planning Committee on 12th July 2017.  The scheme is at 104-8 Scrubs lane, opposite the recently approved developments at ‘North Kensington Gate.

Proposed Mitre yard development
Proposed Mitre yard development

Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s Planning and Development Control Committee considered the application at its meeting on June 12th.  The committee agreed with officer advice that the proposed scheme is premature, and should await future decisions on a new road layout for Scrubs Lane.

The site is bisected by the private access road to the EMR and Powerday waste sites.  Many HGV waste vehicles enter and exit this road every day, often queuing up in Scrubs Lane to do so and bringing traffic in both directions to a halt.  It is hard to see how a development of apartments at this location could be successful until an alternative access road is built. EMR do not see this happening anytime soon.

The second of the two ‘observations’ from Hammersmith & Fulham Council is that the proposed affordable housing offer is not acceptable. The developers are proposing flats at ‘discounted market rent’, an option which many London councils see as unaffordable to residents on median incomes.

Although the developers have improved their offer in latest negotiations with OPDC planners, LBHF councillors still see it as inadequate and are looking for flats at London Living Rent to be part of the S106 package.

The OPDC has published the independent advice its has received from BNP Paribas, on the financial viability of the proposed scheme.  Such transparency is welcome, and reflects the Mayor of London’s policy of greater openness on financial viability assessments.

Anyone interested in the ‘dark arts’ of how developers and their consultants use financial viability assessments, and the data that goes into them, to minimise the level of affordable housing that a scheme can support will find this document and informative read.  See at Mitre Yard BNP Paribas.

More residential towers in Scrubs Lane

Scrubs Lane (the A219 north south route on the eastern border of the OPDC area) is seeing a wave of development proposals.

Planning approval granted to the scheme at North Kensington Gate (South site) was swiftly followed by a decision of the OPDC Planning Committee to grant permission to Aurora Development’s second application on its northern site at 115-129a Scrubs Lane.

This scheme involves a 22 storey tower, with 164 housing units above ground floor commercial space.  Give that this is the first building of anything like this height within the surrounding area, the application proved very contentious.

North Kensington Gate proposed southern tower
North Kensington Gate proposed southern tower

Strong objections were submitted by Historic England, RB Kensington & Chelsea, and LB Hammersmith & Fulham.  There were 39 objections from local residents.  Neighbouring waste contractors European Metal Recycling pointed out that they are not intending to move their own operations anytime soon.

The density of residential development on the site (448 housing units per hectare) is in excess of London Plan standards even for sites with the highest levels of public transport accessibility.  ‘North Kensington Gate’ has very poor transport links.  This will remain the case until the HS2 terminal and a (possible) Hythe Road Overground station open, scheduled but not certain for 2026.

The vote at the OPDC Planning Committee was close, with the three independent members of the committee and its non-elected chair outvoting three of the four local councillors on the committee.

Mitre Yard

This decision was followed by submission of a planning application for a further residential development at ‘Mitre Yard’.  The developers are the City and Docklands Property Group.  This involves two sites across the road from North Kensington Gate.

The sites are separated by the private access road to the EMR and Powerday waste sites.  This road is used by large numbers of HGVs and already creates daily traffic jams in Scrubs Lane as these vehicles enter and leave the site.  EMR has again objected strongly to the application.

The proposed development is for 200 housing units above ground floor commercial space.  The affordable element of the development, in the application, is for 35% of the units to be at ‘discounted market rent’.

The discount proposed is the minimum 20% of market rent.  This qualifies (just) as ‘affordable housing’ in terms of current London Mayoral housing policies.  But in reality the building of such flats will open up viable housing opportunities for few if any of the existing low income residents in the area.

It is understood that the application will be considered by the OPDC Planning Committee on July 12th 2017.


If this application is approved, and this development constructed, the view looking south along Scrubs Lane will be as above.  In the first draft OPD Local Plan, this location was described as a ‘sensitive edge’ of the OPDC area, suitable for low and medium rise buildings and adjacent to two conservation areas. The latest Regulation 19 Draft Local Plan introduces the concept of four ‘clusters’ along Scrubs Lane, each to be allowed one tall building.

An application for a third proposed tower at 2 Scrubs Lane looks likely to surface shortly.