Hammersmith & Fulham and Boris's Big Idea: "No to ‘anti-democratic’ Old Oak land-grab, says council"

"A proposal to take local planning powers away on one of the capital’s biggest housing projects are ‘an anti-democratic land grab’ which gives the potential for the Mayor to allow the building of properties for overseas speculators rather than homes Londoners can afford, according to Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council.

"The Mayor of London launched a consultation on plans to create a Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) around Old Oak Common and Park Royal which is the area where the new High Speed 2 (HS2) hub station is expected to be built.

"The MDC would assume planning powers within its borders, which span large parts of the north of H&F and parts of Brent and Ealing. H&F’s new administration objects to this and has raised concerns that this is nothing more than a land-grab designed to make life easier for the developers – at the cost of local people.

Cllr Stephen Cowan, leader of H&F Council (left), said:
"This council objects to an MDC at Old Oak and Park Royal. We are concerned about the Mayor of London’s record on delivering truly affordable homes for Londoners and do not believe he should be entrusted with sole responsibility on a scheme of this importance.

We are committed to changing housing policies so that we build homes for residents rather than investment properties for overseas speculators and look forward to working with Ealing and Brent councils to do that. There is no good business case for the Mayor to step in.

In fact, the move in government over the years has been to devolve more powers to local communities not take them away. The Mayor’s proposed organisation is a throwback to decades long gone, it would be un-democratic and unnecessarily takes away powers from local residents and local businesses and essentially hands them over to developers and un-elected bureaucrats."

"The public consultation, which runs until September 24, 2014, is asking Londoners for their views on issues such as the proposed boundary, its potential planning powers and whether an MDC is the most effective way to deliver the regeneration.

Cllr Cowan added:
"Local people's views should be at the heart of decisions affecting the future of their community and this is their chance to make themselves heard. I urge residents to make their views known."
"Take part in the consultation by visiting this link.

"HS2 is set to make Old Oak Common Britain's best connected railway station as it acts as the main interchange between HS2 and Crossrail. Old Oak would have a vital role in taking pressure off busy central London terminals like Euston, the London terminus of HS2, which could not have coped with the 13,000 extra passengers an hour that HS2 will bring. A new generation of trains, running at speeds of up to 225mph will stop at the new Old Oak hub station.

"Five of the nation's airports will be linked to the high-speed rail network for the first time through the Old Oak interchange. Central London and Heathrow will be just 10 minutes away, Birmingham will be 40 minutes direct from Old Oak and Luton, Gatwick and City Airport will all be within 45 minutes.

"Around half of working age adults within 1.2miles of the station are unemployed. Some parts of the area - which includes a large amount of railway land with train depots, two waste recycling facilities, the Car Giant dealership and other light industrial uses - are in the bottom 1% most deprived nationally."

"Conservative Councillors support the Mayor’s proposals to take over the planning for the Old Oak Common and Park Royal area. 

"This is a vast site, 950 hectares of desolate railway sidings and industrial land straddling three boroughs, which has the potential to become a thriving new district of London. It could have up to 24,000 new homes and provide more than 55,000 jobs.

"Lucy Ivimy (right), deputy leader of the Conservative opposition on Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said:
"Old Oak is too big and too important an opportunity to be left in the hands of a Council that is openly hostile to development. We all want more homes for London residents and a coherent strategy under a Mayoral Development Corporation is the best way to achieve that.

We believe in creating opportunity and building a vibrant economy. Hammersmith & Fulham badly needs more affordable market housing, and that is what we concentrated on delivering as a Conservative Council administration."

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