Car mega-dealership saved as plans for thousands of homes on Cargiant site abandoned

PUBLISHED: 16:18 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:18 13 December 2019

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

The UK’s largest secondhand car dealership has been saved after local authority developers abandoned plans to use its land for thousands of homes.

The site to the south of Willesden Junction, owned by Cargiant, was earmarked by Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) for a major regeneration project.

But OPDC has halted the compulsory purchase of the site after the value of industrial land increased "four or five-fold in as many years".

The corporation, founded by Boris Johnson in 2015 when he was mayor of London, is responsible for a project to develop 24,000 homes on an area covering 650 hectares, part of which is the Cargiant land.

In a U-turn announced as the general election results were coming in, OPDC will not be pursuing the £250m funding from the government's housing infrastructure fund to kick start the project.

OPDC and Cargiant have been at loggerheads all year over the scheme which the former insisted was "on track" and the latter insisted was "flawed".

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The announcement follows an interim ruling by planning inspector Paul Clark in September, stating the Cargiant land should be deleted from the proposed local plan as it is not "viable".

David Lunts, interim CEO of OPDC, has now said: "With the price of industrial land shooting up four or five-fold in as many years, earlier plans to bring forward Old Oak North are unfortunately not currently viable.

"But this in no way undermines our ambition for thousands of new homes and jobs as these can be achieved on many nearby public sector sites where we are already working closely with our colleagues at Network Rail and HS2."

He said the organisation is "keen" to continue working with Cargiant, and that a draft budget will be submitted to City Hall to reflect the change.

Geoff Warren, owner of Cargiant, said: "We are delighted at this change of approach from the OPDC and the confirmation that they do not require any land owned by Cargiant, which recognises the clear facts on the ground and the strong conclusions of the local plan inspector."

He said he is looking forward to "working closely" with the OPDC over future plans, adding that the existing 800 staff, and thousands more employed in the supply chain, will be delighted the car plant is staying in situ.

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