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Sadiq Khan hits out at Old Oak Common 'mess'

old oak common Rolls Royce Gardens
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The London mayor is looking to renegotiate a land deal done by predecessor Boris Johnson at the Old Oak and Park Royal regeneration scheme in west London

Speaking following the publication of a major review into the £10 billion project, Khan said that the scheme had been ’left in a mess’ by his predecessor who had ’rushed headlong into agreeing a land deal with government that was not in the city’s best interests’.

Khan warned that Johnson’s haste to move the project forward had ’potentially reduced the amount of affordable housing that can be obtained from the site’.

The review of the 140 hectare project – for which a heavyweight shortlist to produce the masterplan was revealed last month (see bottom) – singled out a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by Johnson with the Department of Transport for particular criticism.

It said that although the transfer of government land to the Old Oak Royal Development Corporation was a sound idea, the MoU had been entered into ‘hastily’.

The review said: ‘Not only is the detail of the deal between the government and the mayor unclear at this stage.

‘The risks inherent to the land are also uncertain and unquantified.

‘Significant work is therefore required to understand the land’s development potential and problems, such as remediation requirements, and with government to develop and structure a deal that recognises the complexities of the site.’

The review said that discussions with government departments about gap funding or other financial contributions to reduce the impact of a £2.5bn infrastructure bill have so far proved fruitless.

It recommended: ‘The inequity of expecting London to shoulder the whole cost of infrastructure investment in the area should be pointed out to Government in the strongest terms.

‘A business case should be put to Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) for investment to enable growth.’

Without central government support, the report continues, the high cost of infrastructure may result in a ‘quantum and scale of development that is unacceptable in height, scale, density or mass’ and impact on the ability to provide enough affordable housing.

It pointed out that a new garden city at Ebbsfleet has received a pledge of £310 million from the government, while Birmingham has received £97 million to extend its metro and enhance connections to a planned new HS2 station.

The review also slammed Johnson over his failure to find a suitable relocation site for a planned new Crossrail depot in the middle of the site, or to invest in decking over this facility.

It said that the positioning of the depot has resulted in the loss of valuable development land and depressed land values on adjacent sites.

The location of the depot also ‘compromises OPDC’s ability to create an attractive place’, according to the review.

’One of the most important regeneration projects in London has been left in a mess by my predecessor’

Khan, who vowed to ’squeeze every drop of potential out of this opportunity,’ also called on the quick appointment of a new chair for the OPDC to replace the already departed Edward Lister.

Earlier this year Terry Farrell voiced his own concerns about the development of Old Oak Common, branding the scheme the ‘worst cock-up in years’ and saying that the chance to create 12,000 extra homes in the major new transport super hub had been squandered (see AJ 04.03.16).

Responding to the outcome of Khan’s review, Farrell said: ’’We welcome the Mayor’s focus on the incredible opportunity for london at Old Oak Common, and in particular his views on Old Oak South.

’We fully support his call for a credible long-term plan for a new commercial centre there, with an options appraisal for repositioning or retrofitting the Crossrail depot.’

Meanwhile Geoff Springer, development director London and Regional Properties – which owns the largest privately owned site in the area, masterplanned by PLP Architecture – said: ‘We are delighted that the mayor has given his full backing to the area’s transformation and it is absolutely right that he should seek the best possible deal from government.’

old oak common aerial cargiant today

old oak common aerial cargiant today

The full shortlist

  • Aecom (lead supplier) with team members - Asif Khan, BIG, Bilfinger, GVA, Fluid, Maccreanor Lavington, PBA, Weston Williamson, Spacehub, Wilkinson Eyre, East
  • Allies & Morrison (lead supplier) with team members - Diener & Diener, Weston Williamson, Muf, HHBR, Andersen Hunter Horn, Waterman Group, Steer Davies Gleave, Turner & Townsend, Fluid, Nathaniel Lichfield + Partners, Centre for London, Metephor
  • Arup (lead supplier) with team members - KCAP, Gustafson Porter, S333, PAU, Turner + Townsend, People Friendly Design, London Communications Agency
  • Farrells & Heatherwick Studio (lead supplier) with team members - Exterior Architecture, Arup, Arcadis, Bio Regional, ATK11, Steer Davies Gleave, Turleys, Volterra, GHD Rail Engineering, Colliers, Soundings, London Communications Agency, Flexeye, Siemens
  • Grimshaw (lead supplier) with team members - FutureCity, LDA, QUOD, Amec Foster Wheeler, Urban Strategies, Rick Mather Architects, DK-CM, Soundings, Mott MacDonald, RLB, Steer Davies Gleave
  • Hawkins Brown (lead supplier) with team members - Kathryn Firth, White, Metropolitan Workshop, Benedetti Architects, Grant Associates, Turley, Donald Insall Assocs, Pell Frischmann, Tyrens, Phil Jones Assocs, Turner + Townsend, Soundings, Social Life, Fourth Street
  • Karakuesvic Carson Architects & 5th Studio (lead supplier) with team members - We Made That, Agence Ter, Alan Baxter, AKT11, Quod, Hoare Lea, Soundings, EC Harris/Arcadis


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