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Old Oak and Park Royal development: Chiefs face grilling but new plan brings hope of regeneration

PUBLISHED: 15:28 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:27 10 January 2020

Cargiant land is safe after OPDC u-turn on compulsory purchase and £250m govt funding. Picture: Andrew Holt

Cargiant land is safe after OPDC u-turn on compulsory purchase and £250m govt funding. Picture: Andrew Holt

Andrew Holt www.andrew-holt.com

The regeneration plans around Old Oak and Park Royal have been reset, planning chiefs told London Assembly members during a budget committee grilling.

OPDC chiefs at meeting with London Assembley budget committee meeting. Picture: Nathalie RaffrayOPDC chiefs at meeting with London Assembley budget committee meeting. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Liz Peace CBE, chair of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), and interim chief exec David Lunts faced City Hall members on Monday to answer questions on the collapse of their phase one plans.

The corporation, founded by Boris Johnson in 2015 when he was mayor of London, is responsible for a project on an area covering 650 hectares which would create up to 25,500 new homes and 65,000 jobs over 30 years.

In a U-turn announced as the general election results were coming in on December 13, OPDC said it will not be pursuing the £250m funding from the government's housing infrastructure fund to kick start the project in the north, around Old Oak and would abandon the prospective purchase of Cargiant land - which was news to the budget committee.

It said will refocus attention on Park Royal and look to potentially regenerating the area around the HS2 station in Old Oak Common, which is publicly owned land, and also revamping Willesden Junction.

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Ms Peace told the committee: "This change of direction is not something we originally envisaged but we have to accept that endeavouring to develop Old Oak was never going to be an easy regeneration project especially given the extent of private sector ownership and the scale of the infrastructure requirement. I'm afraid like many regeneration projects the first plan is not the one that turns out to be capable of implementation."

Committee chair Gareth Bacon raised promises made in September last year when the OPDC said the plan "was on track".

"It's like saying the Titanic was on track to reach reach New York after hitting the iceberg," he said,

The pair were grilled about governance and the failure to recruit a permanent chief executive.

Mr Lunts said the relationship with Cargiant, which was originally a potential development partner, has improved.

"We were clearly in a very difficult adverserial relationship with them," he said. "The relationships are certainly a lot more positive. I met with Geoff Warren and his team before Christmas. We've agreed on a process of engagement now."

He said there is "shared excitement" about helping Cargiant "evolve as a business to play a fairly significant role in the shift of motoring in London away from a reliance on fossil fuels".


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