On July 4th 2019, the regular ‘Plenary’ session of the London Assembly focused on the work of the OPDC. These sessions are an opportunity for Assembly members to ask questions about the various bodies responsible to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London.
A webcast of the session can be viewed on the London Assembly website. The lead questioners at the session were Assembly Members Navin Shah (Labour), Sian Berry (Green Party) and Tony Devenish (Conservative). Other Assembly Members asked supplementary questions.
Liz Peace (OPDC Board Chair) and David Lunts (OPDC Interim Chief Executive) answered the questions.
The main points that emerged from the session were:
- confirmation of what was said about the proposed new Overground stations at Hythe Road and old Oak Common Lane, at the June 11th session of the Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee. Both these stations, which feature as part of the Transport strategy in the OPDC Draft Local Plan, are not funded within TfL programmes.
- Liz Peace said that TfL Transport staff had told her some time ago that there was no adequate business case for the Hythe Road station. That proposed for Old Oak Common Lane has slightly more prospect of ever being built, given its potential role in West London Orbital plans.
- David Lunts claimed that even without these stations the future Old Oak would remain ‘an incredibly well connected place‘ where no one will need to walk more than 10 minutes to a station.
- Liz Peace said that following a meeting with the Mayor, Sadiq Kahne would be making a Mayoral decision to release further funds to OPDC to allow it to progress its delivery plans for Old Oak North ‘Phase 1A (the proposed northern link road from the Oaklands site to Scrubs Lane, and associated housing plots).
- David Lunts will increase the time spent on his OPDC role from 2 days to 4 days, while remaining GLA Executive Director for Housing and Land.
- When asked what OPDC had achieved to date, David Lunts cited the £250m HIF funding agreed by Government, and planning permissions granted for 3,500 new homes. The fact that none of the permissions granted for developments along Scrubs Lane have started on site was not mentioned.
- The conditions attached to the £250m HIF grant were raised. It known that the main condition is adoption of the OPDC Local Plan. Assembly Members would like to have more detail. Liz Peace and David Lunts said that it was MHCLG and Homes England that were insisting that details were commercially confidential and the relevant documents could not be released.
- Meanwhile the GLA is being expected to ‘underwrite’ the entire £250m, in the event of OPDC failing to the conditions or the timescales for HIF spend.
- When questioned on how much of Cargiant’s land was needed to meet OPDC’s detailed plans for Phase 1A, David Lunts gave 25% of the total as the current estimate. He said that most of the area concerned was ‘non-operational’ and not critical to Cargiant’s business.
- Liz Peace gave a ‘personal view’ that in the event of HS2 being cancelled by an incoming Prime Minister, it would be hard to see a continued justification for OPDC’s role as a development corporation.
Cargiant circulated a briefing to Assembly Members prior to the Plenary session Letter.19.06.14.LondonAssembley.BPcomm (002). This sets out their view on why the firm will strongly resist efforts to acquire parts of their land via compulsory purchase.
Following the session, Cargiant issued a press statement saying that the OPDC strategy is “completely flawed” and calling for the OPDC to “pull their heads out of the sand”. See at PressStatement.19.07.04.ISSUED.jp.
The briefing note that OONF had provided to selected Assembly Members prompted some questions and comment about OPDC’s approach to community engagement and the role of the OPDC Community Review Group.
Liz Peace said that the content of the OONF note was ‘misleading’ but did not explain in what respects. These concerns of local residents and community groups are being followed up with various Assembly Members who are taking an interest. See Note for London Assembly members from OONF.June 2019 V3
The fact that new Overground stations are not realistic propositions has significant implications for housing densities and building heights at Old Oak. Public Transport Accessibility Levels (PTAL) will be lower than the map included in the current OPDC Draft Local Plan. We have asked that a revised ‘Future PTAL’ map is made available for the Planning Inspector’s final public hearing session on July 18th.