These public hearings took place from 2nd April to the 15th April and were held at the offices of London Councils in Southwark Street. We and other local organisations complained to OPDC about the distance of this location from the area covered by the Local Plan. While convenient for OPDC staff, the venue involved a journey across London for local residents who wished to attend.
Despite this, many residents and community groups did come along to one or more sessions. The Grand Union Alliance had a ‘hot seat’ at the table for all the hearing days. This allowed Robin Brown from Just Space to contribute evidence on many topics, and for other local residents to provide input on their own particular concerns.
The Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum gave evidence on several issues:
- the way in which OPDC has defined all the detailed policies for each of the 12 ‘Places’ in the Draft Plan as being ‘strategic’ rather than ‘non-strategic’. This blocks the scope for variation of policies within any neighbourhood plan and (in our view) is contrary to national guidance and hence an ‘unsound’ approach for a Local Plan.
- The Draft Plan’s lack of openness on housing density and building heights, and the extreme density of 600 housing units/hectares proposed for Old Oak North in the supporting study Old Oak North Development Framework Principles
- The OPDC’s inflexible approach in resisting any mixed use in the large part of the OPDC area designated as SIL (Strategic Industrial Locations) thereby blocking any housing of any kind in areas where mixed use and co-location (with no loss of employment floorspace) could increase vitality and reduce the need for commuting.
Copies of our Written Statements on these issues, as provided to the Inspector, can be downloaded via links in our February 2019 post.
As the Inspector chairing the sessions, Paul Clark seemed willing to listen to views and evidence from community organisations and individual residents. We hope that we gave a good account of ourselves. Apart from Cargiant, few developers/landowners attended to make representations.
The planning consultant for QPR made some contributions. There was no sign of planning officers from Hammersmith & Fulham. LB Brent contributed on some specialist sustainability issues. Friends of Wormwood Scrubs (FOWWS) set out the legal position on protection of he Scrubs as Metropolitan Land and the parameters of 1879 Wormwood Scrubs Act.
At the last session before adjournment, we explained the difficulties for local people resulting from the lack of clear information in the Draft Local Planon what exactly is proposed for Old Oak North (the first intended phase of development). The Inspector has himself asked for further substantive information from OPDC on this subject.
The Inspector also explained at the hearings that the outcome of his Examination may be a set of ‘minor modifications’ which could be made by OPDC, enabling the Local Plan to proceed to adoption. If he considers that ‘major modifications’ are needed, this would require a further (fourth) round of public consultation. We think this latter outcome is quite likely, given the extent of change to the context for the Local Plan since OPDC first embarked on its preparation.
We have submitted a FoI/EiR request to OPDC for sight of the Corporation’s autumn 2018 application to central government for Housing Infrastructure funding. The sum of £250m has been awarded (in March 2019) and we would like to know how this will be applied. So would Cargiant.
We cannot see why a funding application to central government from a public body such as the Corporation should not be available to the public. Any commercial content that is genuinely sensitive can be redacted. We will appeal to the Information Commissioner if OPDC does not release the documentation.
The closing date for applications for the post of OPDC Chief Executive Officer is 1st May. Details are in this pack 66367_Candidate_Brief_FINAL. The ‘competitive salary package’ is not disclosed. The information about the position includes a ‘Company Overview‘ whereas the OPDC is a public body expensively funded via the London Mayor’s precept on London’s Council Tax payers, as Cargiant has pointed out in its press releases.
Meanwhile David Lunts (GLA Executive Director of Housing and Land) is acting as Interim Chief Executive on a part time basis, with Tom Cardis as Interim Director of Planning. We will post a further update once a date for a final session of the EIP hearings is known, and when the further information provided by OPDC is published.