Say rise in industrial land prices has rendered in uneconomic
Plans by the Old Oak and Park Royal Corporation (OPDC) to buy the land currently owned by Car Giant have been abandoned.
The move means the redevelop corporation will no longer qualify for £250 million in government funding from the Housing Infrastructure fund and will significantly reduce the overall size of the project. There had already been concerns raised about the viability of the plans give the uncertainty over HS2.
The corporation have planned to turn the area into a primarily residential zone but now they say increasing industrial land prices have rendered the scheme unviable. The 54 acre Car Giant site is adjacent to the planned HS2 Old Oak Common station which would interconnect with Crossrail and it was hoped that it could be acquired through a compulsory purchase order. However, the car sales company resisted the order and this September received the support of the Planning Inspectorate.
David Lunts, Interim CEO of OPDC, said, "This new approach to delivering the amazing potential at Old Oak and Park Royal makes good sense given the dramatic changes in market conditions over the last year or so. 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. This new approach also gives us the opportunity to support Cargiant and other local businesses to remain locally based and support investments in jobs, zero-emission vehicles and further develop the area as a leading location for sustainable innovation."
This will reduce the overall number of homes being created by the scheme by over 10,000 to just over 14,000 if other parts of the project proceed. OPDC has already approved plans for over 5,000 homes including 1,500 already completed or being built.
The site is likely to remain zoned for industrial use rather than residential.
OPDC say they will be revising its plans, and working to bring forward and unlock a range of early sites – in both public and private ownership - where substantial numbers of new homes and jobs can be developed quickly. This will be done alongside a focus on the large public sector land holdings that are close to the existing Willesden Junction station and the proposed new HS2 interchange hub. This hub will bring HS2, Great Western and Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) services together in the largest new station to be constructed for over a century. These sites are primarily in the ownership of HS2 and Network Rail.
Susan Hall, a Conservative London Assembly member, told the BBC, "It's disappointing that the OPDC has had to go back to the drawing board after failing to reach an agreement with Cargiant.
"We warned the mayor that this project was in troubled waters and asked him to step in to help the OPDC reach an agreement with Cargiant, but sadly Sadiq Khan failed to act."
OPDC has submitted its draft budget for 2020/21 to City Hall. The draft, which is a £1.9m (20 per cent) reduction compared to the cash limit issued by the Mayor to OPDC in June, will be considered as part of the overall budget settlement across the Greater London Authority and reflects this revised approach.
OPDC is also stepping up its work in the Park Royal industrial estate, a diverse community of 1,700 businesses, 44,000 workers and 2,000 residents. Current plans include a new employment and skills hub in partnership with local boroughs, colleges, office space for the Department for Work and Pensions, a range of transport improvements to address congestion, piloting new low-carbon energy initiatives and improving access to fibre broadband. OPDC is also making improvements to the Grand Union Canal and supporting a number of practical community-based initiatives including facilities for the local canoeing club.
Find out more about the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation and view the plans online on the corporation's website.
December 16, 2019