OPDC abandons plans to use Cargiant land

In a sudden and unexpected turn of events, a press release from the OPDC On December 13th announced that the Corporation was halting its plans to assemble land at Old Oak North.

This brings to an end the legal tussle between the OPDC and Cargiant Ltd.  In early 2019 Cargiant changed its position and decided to remain on its existing 44 acre site (see previous posts).   The OPDC chose to progress its ‘masterplan’ for Old Oak North, using its powers of compulsory purchase to acquire tracts of Cargiant land.

See for more information at OPDC and Cargiant press statements Dec 2019

The OPDC Board has not met since September 26th 2019 and is not meeting again until January 30th 2020 (a four month gap).  So there has been no report or Board discussion that explains the consequences of this major change of direction by the Corporation.

Abandoning what was to have been ‘Phase 1’ of new development at Old Oak raises many questions.  What alternative sites are now being explored?   How much public money has been spent in pursuing plans for Old Oak North which attracted objections from the start, to the proposed excessive densities and building heights?

OONF and the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum has sent OPDC a list of questions StQW and OONF questions on OPDC new focus.   We hope to have answers before the next OONF and GUA meeting on January 7th.

Either way, we will be ensuring that members of the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee see a copy of our questions before they meet in early January to scrutinise the OPDC Budget submission Dec 2020

The efforts of local neighbourhood forums to gain access to information on OPDC decisions are beginning to bear fruit.  The London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee formally ‘summonsed’ certain documents from OPDC Chair Liz Peace and Interim Chief Executive David Lunts in September 2019.  Committee Chair Gareth Bacon MP AM has now written to Liz Peace, asking for this material to be published London Assembly -OPDC -Letter to Liz Peace

These are the same documents, relating to the Corporation’s 2018 bid for Housing Infrastructure Funding, that OONF and the StQW Neighbourhood Forum have been asking for as Freedom of Information requests, over the past 9 months.

These requests were refused by OPDC as being ‘manifestly unreasonable’.   We look forward to the early publication of these documents, so that we can tell the Information Commissioner to drop our complaint over the OPDC’s failure to disclose them previously.


OPDC – a development corporation lacking transparency

Over the past 18 months it has become increasingly hard for the public to gain an understanding of the activities and aims of the OPDC.  Meetings that are open to the public very rarely question or discuss the critical challenges facing the Corporation.  Reports from officers include little detail on these matters.  Much of the decision-making appears to take place in private and informal sessions, or via delegation to OPDC officers.

Questions over the governance of the Corporation have been pursued in depth by the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum.   More information on exchanges of correspondence with OPDC Chair Liz Peace CBE and Interim Chief Exective David Lunts can be found on the StQW Forum website at www.stqw.org 

Efforts by OONF to uncover the content of the OPDC/GLA bid to Government for Housing Infrastructure Funding have so far proved unsuccessful.  OPDC refuses to release a copy of their September 2018 ‘Expression of Interest’ for this funding, under the Freedom of Information Act.   Requests for sight of the conditions attached to this £250m of Government funding, awarded on a provisional basis in March 2019, have also been turned down.

The London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee has become so concerned about the risks that OPDC are incurring that the committee took the unusual step in September 2019 of issuing a legal summons to Liz Peace and David Lunts Agenda item 8a.  This listed a series of documents relating to the HIF bid that London Assembly Members wish to see.

The Committee has been provided with these documents, but has not met since September.  It remains unclear whether part or all of this material will finally be made public.

In the meantime OONF  and the StQW Neighbourhood Forum have referred to the Information Commissioner our concerns over the refusals by the the OPDC to release the HIF Expression of Interest and the funding conditions set by Government.

We believe that the public interest case for disclosure of these documents outweigh the grounds that OPDC and the GLA have put forward for refusing our FoI/EIR requests.  These grounds are a combination of ‘commercial sensitivity’ and the ‘manifest unreasonableness’ of our requests.

The detailed letter to the Information Commissioner, setting out the case for disclosure can be found here  StQW and OONF to ICO 30.11.19