"The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), the second Mayoral Development Corporation, has been in preparation since 2014. (see various Newsfoums) It is intended to secure the benefits of the regeneration and development of Old Oak and Park Royal. The 1,600-acre site in west London has been earmarked for 25,000 homes, the depot and stations for Crossrail and the HS2 high-speed train line.
"In June the new Mayor of London commissioned the Greater London Authority (GLA) to undertake a review of the strategic direction and work programme of the OPDC. The Mayor was reported to have said that 'it has been left in a mess by my predecessor'.
"The review found that:
- A memorandum of understanding agreed by mayor Boris Johnson and the government was hastily entered into and should have been agreed on more favourable terms
- That the deal was on terms less favourable than other similar previous land transfers
- The detail of the deal is too unclear and 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
- The OPDC staff resource does not have the capacity to take forward the land deal work and expert help will be needed.
"A series of recommendations have been made, including:
- Better terms on the land deal that are in the best interests of London such as those offered when Greenwich Peninsula was transferred to the GLA in 2012
- A review of the nature of the development being proposed, including the level of affordable housing
- A proposal that the new Homes for Londoners team at City Hall, set up by the Mayor in August to oversee homebuilding in the capital and boost the delivery of new and affordable homes, should work on the project
- A revision of the funding arrangements: although discussions with Whitehall about more money had 'so far proved fruitless' a strong case must be made to Government to provide financial support, new powers and value capture mechanisms to meet the cost of infrastructure funding
- It is vital that a credible longer-term plan be put in place for bringing forward a new commercial centre at Old Oak South
- That the OPDC, working with the GLA, investigates the feasibility and implications of redrawing the Corporation’s boundary so as to exclude Wormwood Scrubs
- The DCLG, DfT, Network Rail and HS2 public officials should be asked to step down from the Board and offered observer status instead. The resulting vacancies on the Board should be used to recruit experts with property and commercial knowledge and experience – and also local knowledge."