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London mayor lambasts Old Oak Common ‘mess’

Old Oak Common regeneration

The mayor of London has said that plans to regenerate Old Oak in West London were left in “a mess” by his predecessor.

London mayor Sadiq Khan gave the announcement after publishing the findings of his review of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC).

Khan has given his full backing for the regeneration of Old Oak, but called on government to reduce the financial burden that the plans will place on Londoners.

The mayor criticised his predecessor, Boris Johnson, for “rushing headlong” into an agreement with government to transfer land at Old Oak that was made on unfavourable terms compared to other major regeneration schemes in the country.

A new High Speed 2 (HS2) and Crossrail station is due to be constructed at Old Oak Common by 2026.

OPDC was established in April 2015 to oversee development for the wider area and has full planning powers within its 650ha boundary that includes land in the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Ealing and Brent.

Khan announced a formal review of OPDC in June.

The review found that:

  • A memorandum of understanding agreed by Johnson and government that paved the way for OPDC to take ownership from government of public land surrounding the proposed new station was hastily entered into and should have been agreed on more favourable terms.
  • There was evidence that a greater level of government funding had been made available to other areas along the HS2 line. For example, Birmingham will receive significant government-led investment for a new metro station.
  • The positioning of a Crossrail depot and maintenance facility in the core development area has meant that valuable development land has been lost, land values for adjacent sites depressed and the ability to create an attractive place has been compromised. Khan attributed this to the failures of the previous mayor either to find a suitable relocation site or to invest in engineering solutions that allow “decking” over the facility.

A series of recommendations have been made, including:

  • Discussions should take place with government to determine if there are parcels of land in the north of Old Oak that can be transferred to the mayor early and ahead of the main deal being concluded to speed up development.
  • A credible longer-term plan must be put in place for bringing forward a new commercial centre at Old Oak South, and Transport for London (TfL) should conduct and present the mayor with a thorough options appraisal for repositioning or retrofitting the Crossrail depot.

“Old Oak and Park Royal is one of the most important regeneration projects in London but it has been left in a mess by my predecessor,” said Khan.

“It is clear from this review that Boris Johnson was rushing headlong into agreeing a land deal with government that was not in the city’s best interests, potentially reducing the amount of affordable housing that can be obtained from the site. I will continue to lobby government to ensure this scheme meets the needs of the city and that we squeeze every drop of potential out of this opportunity.”

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