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Inspectorate issues interim findings on Old Oak plan

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing targets revised / iStock-626187690

The Planning Inspectorate advised Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation's (OPDC) to revise its housing targets downwards after recommending the removal of two sites from its emerging local plan.

Cargiant owns the sites in question, with site allocation two and three earmarked to deliver 5,900 homes in total.

The inspector’s report notes that the firm was looking to relocate its business but in 2017 decided that this was not possible, and until January 2019 it was supportive of site allocation two. Cargiant has also developed its own plans for the site, but the development corporation did not accept them.

Inspector P. Clark decided that inclusion of Cargiant's land, south of Willesden Junction station, was “unviable”. If developed, he said it couldn’t yield enough profit to pay for moving the business elsewhere even if no affordable homes or subsidised infrastructure were built there.

Cargiant is a “highly successful and profitable business”, Clark noted, and its “extinction simply does not make sense in planning terms”, particularly if as a result affordable housing cannot be delivered.

“It may be argued that to have some, albeit limited affordable housing would be better than delivering none at all, but my firm view is that the viability of this site allocation does not permit the delivery of affordable housing at all,” he explained.

He therefore concluded that site allocation two and, by extension, site allocation three should be deleted from the local plan, and “references throughout the plan to the delivery of 20,100 dwellings and 40,400 jobs over the next 20 years … revised downward”.

Clark does consider OPDC’s plans for phase 1a to be deliverable and has directed the development corporation to make changes to the local plan to support the delivery of this phase of development.

David Lunts, chief executive officer at the OPDC, said the initial findings of the interim report “are encouraging as they endorse our aim of bringing forward the first phase of development”, which will “provide new access, utilities and other infrastructure to enable 3,000 homes and many new jobs for Londoners”.

On site allocations two and three, Lunts commented: “The inspector’s decision not to designate the remainder of Cargiant’s land for future housing development at this stage is not entirely unexpected, given Cargiant’s strong opposition and their recent change of heart to keep their business on the site. He has, however, de-designated the site from its protected strategic industrial designation, and given the recent announcement of a two-year delay to the opening of the HS2 station at Old Oak, and the Oakervee review of the entire HS2 scheme, we appreciate that it may be some time before the rest of Cargiant’s site comes forward for redevelopment. We will of course continue to work closely with the inspector, Cargiant and other landowners to see our local plan through to adoption.”

The inspector’s report can be read on the OPDC website (pdf).

Read more:

Old Oak and Park Royal regeneration: What you need to know

Image credit | iStock