OPDC’s response to our request for a review of this Mayoral Development Corporation

In November 2022 we sent to London Assembly Members a detailed submission, arguing the case for a full review of OPDC.   This document was included in a previous post on this website and can be downloaded here OONF Submission to Budget and Performance Committee. November 18th 2022

The submission was referred to in the discussion at the Assembly’s Policy and Resources Committee on December 7th 2022 Supplement Minutes – Appendix 2 – Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation 07122022 1000.   Len Duvall AM, as chair of that meeting asked David Lunts (OPDC CEO) to provide a written response to the points that we made.

This OPDC response was provided in the form of a letter to the Chair of the Committee (see at David Lunts to Chair Budget and Policy Cttee 31.0123).

Our open meeting on March 7th will be discussing this response and whether our members feel that it addresses the points made in our submission.   The letter makes no comment on the need for a review of OPDC.

The Mayor of London has a statutory duty to review both of the two Mayoral Development Corporations ‘from time to time’ (OPDC and the London Legacy Development Corporations).  Given that the last review of the OPDC was in 2016, we feel that a further review is overdue.

As set out in our submission, local residents at Old Oak are increasingly worried that OPDC’s ‘change of direction’ in November 2019 is not going to plan, and cannot now go to plan.   The choice of ‘Old Oak West’ as the focus for new development and a ‘major new town centre’ has locked OPDC into waiting until the key development sites are released by HS2.

Delayed release dates by HS2 have not been reported to, or discussed by the OPDC Board or by the OPDC Planning Committee.  We do not understand why, other than a desire by the Corporation to show that ‘all is well’.  The implications for the ongoing grant of planning consents at Old Oak West, for high density/high rise housing, are significant.

HS2 site release dates

Promises made by developers in marketing materials, of the arrival of new shops, amenities, open space and a ‘major town centre’ at Old Oak West have become fictional.  The same applies to the forecast opening date of Old Oak Common Station (originally 2026 and now 2032, if then).

It is true that almost every major regeneration initiative in London (Canary Wharf, Kings Cross, Vauxhall/Nine Elms Battersea) has seen delays, revised timescales, and new housing left stranded without surrounding amenities and social infrastructure.   We understand and accept that regeneration projects in the UK extend over decades, while cities such as Paris achieve much faster progress under different planning systems.

But this is no excuse for keeping the public in the dark on delays, or pitching over-optimistic versions of ‘momentum’ and ‘delivery’ to London’s development industry and to the public.   We will be continuing to argue the case for a second review of OPDC and its proposed approach for the period 2023-2030.