OPDC under fire for not telling London Assembly of its ‘change of approach’

PUBLISHED: 10:00 31 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

Chiefs overseeing the regeneration of Old Oak and Park Royal are being urged to release confidential documents after “surprising” London Assembly members with the decision not to request £250million in government funding to kick-start the project.

Kevin Bacon, chair of the London Assembly's budget and performance committee has written to Liz Peace, chair of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) asking for "transparency."

He said he was "surprised" to hear of the OPDC's change of approach "in a press release" and was "disappointed" that the committee didn't hear the news directly from her.

As reported in the Times, the OPDC announced a U-turn as the general election results were coming in on Friday 13 that it will not be pursuing the "in principle" £250m funding from the government's housing infrastructure fund to kick start the project and buy land belonging to used car enterprise Cargiant.

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 meeting in September the budget committee summoned documents relating to the full OPDC HIF funding bid, as well as the funding conditions and assessment of the Car Giant/Arup alternative road alignment for Union Way.

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The documents were received and marked as "confidential" by the OPDC interim chief David Lunts.

Mr Bacon said: "As one of the mayor of London's functional bodies, the OPDC must be scrutinised and held to account. It is the London Assembly's job to do this thoroughly.

"Full transparency is required for projects commissioned by the Mayor of London. Following the recent news that OPDC is revising how it plans to deliver thousands of jobs and houses, the committee now believes that the sensitivity around these documents no longer applies.

"The London Assembly budget and performance Committee is urging OPDC to publish these confidential documents."

Mr Lunts said "OPDC briefed all Assembly Members who represent the OPDC area, along with other local political and community stakeholders.

"We are now reviewing the assembly's request with MHCLG and Homes England, and our respective legal and governance teams, and will seek to make public as much information as possible, subject to reasonable confidentiality requirements.

"We will update the public on our mutual position in due course".

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