A key landowner has demanded a halt to all spending on the massive Old Oak Common regeneration scheme and an inquiry into a bid for government funding
Vehicle supermarket Cargiant said the scheme to create 25,000 homes in the vicinity of WSP and WilkinsonEyre’s proposed ‘super-hub’ station in west London was ‘unviable’.
Cargiant says it fears eventual closure of its existing 18ha plot as the Old Oak & Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) pursues the regeneration of the area. Images of Old Oak Common interchange – which will connect High Speed 2 with Crossrail – were released this week.
But the car dealership has urged closer scrutiny of the project body’s application for £250 million of taxpayer cash through the Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Cargiant managing director Tony Mendes said: ‘In just four years the OPDC has already spent £30 million of public money and we are gravely concerned that it is now seeking £250 million more, even though the comprehensive development of the area is currently unviable, unaffordable and undeliverable.’
He added: ‘We are today calling for an immediate pause on further spending and consultant appointments; for the OPDC to make public its bid for £250 million of government money so this can be properly scrutinised by the London Assembly and MPs; and for a full inquiry into this matter with two objectives.
‘The first is to ascertain how many homes can actually be delivered by spending another £250 million … the second is to examine if the OPDC as an organisation is fit to oversee the spending of such a huge sum.’
London mayor Sadiq Khan was described as ‘extremely disappointed’ by Cargiant’s approach.
‘These comments are barely worth the paper that they are written on,’ said a spokesperson for Khan. ‘The mayor would be letting down Londoners if he allowed private-sector-vested interests to get in the way of the homes and jobs that Londoners need.’
The OPDC insisted it would only use compulsory purchase powers as a last resort as it builds a package of land for the scheme.
Chair Liz Peace said: ‘Development on complex brownfield land is a challenge. We are working hard with local landowners to minimise impacts on local businesses where possible.
‘We have been having delivery-focused discussions for many months, including with Cargiant, and so its current public approach is disappointing. We will continue and we believe solutions will be found.’
Peace added that Old Oak Common was the largest and ‘perhaps the most exciting’ mixed-use regeneration scheme in the UK.
‘Old Oak will become a new centre of gravity in west London,’ she said, ‘a new community offering much-needed new homes and job opportunities for both local people and the wider London economy to continue to grow.’
Peace said the Housing Infrastructure Fund cash would be used to start delivery of strategic infrastructure and the first large phases of development in Old Oak North.
‘This public-led intervention will give the mayor and OPDC the certainty that up to 10,000 new homes and 5,500 new jobs would be delivered for Londoners by the early 2030s,’ she added.