Cargiant versus OPDC – what future now for ‘Old Oak North’?

On 7th February 2019, Cargiant issued a press release and wrote to members of the OPDC Board calling for:

1. An immediate halt to all further spending and consultant appointments;
2. An immediate halt to the CPO process which will see 150 business and over 1,000 jobs lost from the area; and
3. A full inquiry into the spending and strategy of the OPDC, including the open publication of the bid for £250 million of Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) money so this can be properly scrutinised to see if it represents value for money.

Cargiant are the landowners for 46 acres of land at Hythe Road NW10 from which they operate the UK’s largest ‘car processing’ operation.  Since 2014 the company has partnered with London and Regional  Properties and has been preparing a masterplan for a major development at Old Oak Park.

The plans for this development went through 4 rounds of consultation in which local community groups and members of OONF were involved.  We had assumed during 2018 that Cargiant and OPDC were holding detailed pre-application discussions and that an outline planning application would surface early in 2019.

Now it seems that this was not from the case.  It seems that OPDC told Cargiant to stop work on their masterplan in late 2017.  OPDC had its own team of masterplanners, led by AECOM, working up its own detailed proposals for Old Oak North.

The dispute between Cargiant and OPDC is a deep one, with allegations of false promises and bad faith.   This article in the Estates Gazette gives a view from both sides Tony Mendes v Liz Peace.

Cargiant explained their position at the OONF and GUA meeting on March 5th.  They intend to continue and expand their existing business.                    (see at Cargiant.BriefingSheet.Feb2019) and to fight off OPDC proposals for compulsory purchase of slices of their land where this makes their operation unviable.   Their earlier plans for relocating their entire operation they say are no longer viable, as a result of delays at the OPDC end.

These events have big implications for the current examination of the OPDC Draft Local Plan.  This is being carried out by Planning Inspector Paul Clark MA MRTPI MCMI.  Public hearings are due to start on April 2nd.  Cargiant will be giving evidence, as will OONF and the Grand Union Alliance along with other community groups.

How is the Inspector to assess the ‘soundness’ and ‘effectiveness’ of a Draft Local Plan which (in its latest Regulation 19.2 version) relies very heavily on Old Oak North as the first phase of major housing development?   How can the proposed ambitious housing targets (and extreme densities) for this area be assessed when the major landowner now has a very different view of the future of the site?

Coupled with this is the continuing lack of decision by Government on the bid by OPDC for £250m of Housing Infrastructure Funds (essential to meet costs of infrastructure and land assembly).   Funding for the  ‘potential’ new Overground stations at Hythe Road and Old Oak Common Lane remains similarly uncertain, with Transport for London now cash-strapped by delays on completion of the Crossrail/Queen Elizabeth Line.

The public sessions of the Examination of the OPDC Draft Local Plan will get interesting.  These being held at the offices of London Councils in Southwark Street, starting on April 2nd.  For more details see this OPDC web page on the examination process.

OONF will be giving evidence at the hearings.  Apart from the representations submitted previously at each stage of the Local Plan consultation, three further ‘written statements’ have been submitted to the Examiner.

OONF and StQW statement on Matter 4 (density, housing targets, heights)

StQW and OONF Hearing Statement on Matter 5 (tall buildings)

OONF Written Statement Matter 13 (Strategic Industrial land and the case for mixed use areas between Wormwood Scrubs and Park Royal.

Anyone wishing to have the chance to speak at the EIP hearings should get in touch at   The Grand Union Alliance will have a ‘hot seat’ at the hearings at which local community groups can give evidence.  Such evidence need to be well focused on a specific ‘Matter’ under discussion, rather than a general objection to the Local Plan.  Members of the public can observe and listen at any time.