OPDC Draft Local Plan – why we think it should not be adopted

The OPDC’s Local Plan proposals enter their final stages over the coming weeks.   The Draft Plan was originally submitted in October 2018, after two years of preparation and three statutory consultations.

Three years later Planning Inspector Paul Clark has been reviewing responses to the consultation on ‘modifications’ made by OPDC following its November 2019 ‘change of direction’.   These fundamental changes to the original spatial proposals in the 2018 version had resulted from Cargiant decision’s to stay put on their 46 acre landholding at Hythe Road.   They include the loss of previously planned Overground stations at Hythe Road and Old Oak Common Lane.

The Planning Inspector concluded in 2019 after a series of public hearings that OPDC’s ideas for compulsory purchase of the Cargiant land were not viable.  He instructed that the key sites involved should be removed from the Plan and remain as at present, rather than being alloccated for 6,000 new homes.

OPDC then embarked on what it badged as its ‘Western Lands’ strategy.  Alternative sites for high density housing were identified at Channel Gate/Atlas Road and at Scrubs Lane, in an attempt to achieve the housing target set in the London Plan.

Since 2019 OONF has argued that this ‘change of direction’ has resulted in a Draft Local Plan that is deeply flawed.   There is now no significantly improved public transport network for the Old Oak area – apart from the new HS2/Crossrail station at Old Oak Common.  This is not due to become operational until 2029-33 and even then it is not clear how much practical value it will add to those living or working at Old Oak.

Plans for an east-west ‘Wormwood Scrubs street’ north of the Scrubs and linking East Acton to North Kensington remain 20 years away.  What was to have become a new major town centre at Hythe Road is now planned to be a series of ‘parts of a town centre’ spread between North Acton and Channel Gate off Old Oak Lane.

OONF has argued since 2019 that this ‘modified’ Local plan is incoherent.  Our detailed representations on the mid 2021 consultation are at this previous post  http://oldoakneighbourhoodforum.org/?p=638

It looks as though the Planning Inspector will pay little heed to the 254 points that we raised with him.  There were a total of 1,024 representations made, from the three Boroughs involved, local organisations such as the Grand Union Alliance, and landowners wanting to be able to build at ever higher densities.

The Inspector does not wish to hold further public hearings – despite the fact that the 2021 Draft Local Plan is very different from that on which hearings took place in 2019.

A final draft of our latest attempt to persuade the Inspector to recognise that this is a misguided and incoherent plan for Old Oak  can be downloaded here OONF and StQW submissions V6.

We are not optimistic that the Forum will be allowed the chance to explain our concerns at a public hearing.  Should it proceed to adoption by OPDC we don’t see this Local Plan as remaining in place for long, before it becomes all too obvious that a rethink is needed.

London’s future housing and office needs, and changes to working patterns, means that a regenerated part of needs to take account of a different context than in 2016.  Given the delays on the opening of Old Oak Common Station (was to be 2026 and now 2029-33) there is time to create a better Local Plan.

But the track record of the OPDC as a development corporation is already under fire, and its Board and officers seem determined to deliver a Local Plan even if it has many flaws.  The next few weeks of ‘examination’ of the Plan will be critical.