By Jessie Mathewson, Local Democracy Reporter
A major west London regeneration scheme has unveiled a new plan to build more than 25,000 homes – despite admitting it has no land and little cash.
The Old Oak Park Development Corporation, backed by the Mayor of London, is Britain’s biggest development, based around a huge new interchange station which will link HS2 to Crossrail.
But the scheme’s first vision for a new neighbourhood in Park Royal collapsed after the corporation submitted false information in a £250 million funding bid to Government.
Old Oak claimed that local business Car Giant, a used car dealership to the east of the planned station, had agreed to relocate so houses could be built on its site.
But although Car Giant had expressed an initial interest in the project, talks had since broken down, and the company had no plans to move.
Losing a quarter of a billion pounds in funding sent the corporation back to the drawing board – but leaders now have a new plan, with homes primarily to the north and west of the station.
The new scheme relies more heavily on publicly owned land from Network Rail or HS2, including work sites and disused sidings.
Old Oak aims to build 13,670 homes in the next decade, and 25,680 in total.
Land to the east of the station will be developed into an “innovative industrial area” with multi-storey business units, new storage facilities, and an electric car plant and sales centre for Car Giant, according to corporation plans.
Old Oak chairwoman Liz Pierce admitted the corporation was currently in the “unenviable” position of not owning land and needing significant new funding from Government and the private sector.
But failing to develop the area around the new HS2 station would be a “massive missed opportunity,” she said.
“If we’re not thinking about it, somebody else will be – and dare I say opportunist developers will pop up with very suboptimal proposals to make a quick buck out of the land that’s become available,” she warned the London Assembly yesterday.
“We’re still seeing this as a major regeneration project that will deliver not just housing numbers but a new neighbourhood of London,” Ms Pierce told the budget scrutiny committee.
Corporation leaders said housing developers were still interested in the area, despite the coronavirus downturn – and the scheme would bid for cash from a new Government housing fund set to launch in the coming months.
Bosses were optimistic that the project – originally set up by Boris Johnson during his time as Mayor, and now supported by London Mayor Sadiq Khan – will get Treasury backing.
But London Assembly Conservative leader Susan Hall, who chairs the budget scrutiny committee, warned that Old Oak has “a recent history of underspend and under delivering”.
She said: “You have always had confidence, but that’s not always been backed. You’ve always had good plans but it’s delivery we’re looking for in this committee.”
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