Assembly supports principle of Mayoral Development Corporation

17 December 2014

At an Extraordinary Plenary session, the London Assembly today confirmed its support, in principle, to the proposals to establish a Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC). The meeting was called to discuss the Mayor’s plans to lead the regeneration of Old Oak Common and Park Royal.

The Assembly did, however, set out a number of concerns and issues on which it has called upon the Mayor to respond.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM, who proposed an amendment to the resolution, said:

“The Assembly has raised a number of serious concerns about the way the Mayor is approaching this project. While we do not object to the MDC in principle, the lack of targets for affordable housing at Old Oak Common are particularly worrying which is why the Assembly calls upon the Mayor to include a target that 50 per cent of all new homes are affordable.”

“In order to ensure that the MDC meets the aspirations of local residents and wider London, it is important that the Mayor listens to these concerns and that all three Boroughs are treated as equal partners.”

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The Assembly did, however, agree the following in relation to the Proposal:

“In formally considering the Mayor’s proposals, this Assembly states its support – in principle – for the creation of a Mayoral Development Corporation for Old Oak Common and Park Royal (OPDC). The planned High Speed 2 and Crossrail interchange presents a unique opportunity for one of the largest redevelopments in London, and the OPDC could provide the strategic direction and authority necessary to ensure it is delivered successfully for both new and existing communities.

However, this Assembly has concerns regarding the Mayor’s proposals:

The governance structure remains contentious. There are concerns about the size and composition of the Board, and the terms under which members will be appointed.

The proposed timescales for the development of planning documents are extraordinarily rushed. The Development Infrastructure Funding Study (DIF) phasing plans indicate that most development is expected within twenty years, yet the OPDC hopes to adopt the Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF) and the Local Plan within two years of its establishment. These documents will lay down the direction of travel for the development, including on important issues such as provision of genuinely affordable housing and preventing inappropriate urban design and architecture, and therefore must be the result of a considered process. Rushing the process limits the scope for meaningful consultation with local communities and local authorities. The proposed timescales represent an unnecessary acceleration of the process and may not provide the very best development for Old Oak Common and Park Royal.

There remain too many uncertainties regarding the funding of infrastructure. The Mayor expects around half of all funding to come from developer contribution, but the proposal does not indicate how the other half will be raised. Since much of the investment will be required up-front to support enabling infrastructure and land acquisition, it is essential that the Mayor further develop proposals for funding.

The inclusion of Wormwood Scrubs within the boundary of the OPDC is unjustified and unnecessary. This unique open space of scrub, grassland, and woodland supporting a wide variety of plant and wildlife is an important community amenity. We note that the Mayor argues it must be included within the OPDC boundary in order to “mitigate development impacts”, but this is unnecessary because the land is protected by the Wormwood Scrubs Act 1879 and other designations including as Metropolitan Open Land. We welcome the removal of Linford Christie Stadium, the hospitals, and HMP Wormwood Scrubs from the boundary, and call on the Mayor to do the same for Wormwood Scrubs itself.

The protection of industrial land must be strengthened. Park Royal is Europe’s largest industrial estate and is protected as Strategic Industrial Land under the London Plan because of the essential role it plays in London’s economy, particularly in the food and film industries. However, the ambition for 1,500 homes in Park Royal raises concern that some of this land will be sacrificed for housing. We are pleased that one of the purposes of the OPDC would be to “protect and regenerate the industrial areas of Park Royal”, but the Mayor must make a firm commitment that no industrial land will be lost.

The commitment to provision of genuinely affordable housing must also be strengthened. We welcome the inclusion of an objective to deliver homes “including a mix of affordable, tenures and sizes, as per the Further Alterations to the London Plan”, but we note that the Inspectors Report into the FALP finds that it “will not deliver sufficient homes to meet objectively assessed need”. We therefore call on the Mayor to make clear that the OPDC Local Plan will include a requirement that 50 per cent of all new homes are affordable, with a 60:40 split on intermediate and at social rents. The difference between the relatively low value of the current land use and its increasing value as development progresses, provides an opportunity to secure a larger proportion of affordable housing at the site relative to most large-scale developments in the capital.

We support the Mayor’s powers to act strategically using a MDC to develop Old Oak Common and Park Royal. However, we are not satisfied that the structure and substance of this particular MDC, as proposed, will deliver the best possible outcome for Londoners in terms of affordable housing, urban design and architecture, and protection of strategically important industrial land.

This Assembly notes the answers given by the Deputy Mayor for Planning and the Director of the proposed Mayoral Development Corporation for Old Oak and Park Royal, and calls on the Mayor of London to:

ensure that the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation’s (OPDC) planning committee’s Standing Orders permit verbal representations to be made at the meetings, as well as in writing;

ensure that the OPDC publishes the maximum amount of information about decisions, giving clear reasons why any information is kept private;

ensure the routine inclusion of transparency clauses in all contracts and other written agreements entered into by the OPDC; and

bring forward proposals to exclude Wormwood Scrubs from the boundary of the OPDC, following the provisions in section 199 of the Localism Act 2011.

This Assembly calls on the Mayor to bring forward proposals to set a guaranteed minimum proportion of affordable homes across the Mayoral Development Area including a high proportion of social rent as well as intermediate housing as close as possible to the London Plan target of 50 per cent.

This Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor to formally respond to the specific concerns raised in this motion and develop an MDC proposal that addresses the issues outlined.”

Notes for Editors:

1. Section 197 of the Localism Act 2011 gives the Mayor powers to designate any area of land in Greater London as a Mayoral Development Area (MDA) for the purposes of setting up a Mayoral Development Corporation. In relation to the proposal to designate a MDA covering Old Oak and Park Royal, that process has now reached its final stage. At this final stage, the Act requires the Mayor to lay his proposals for designation of the Area before the Assembly in order to afford it the opportunity to reject the proposed designation within the following 21 days. The Mayor may only proceed to designate the MDA if, after the 21 day “consideration period” has expired, the Assembly has not rejected his proposals. In accordance with Section 197, the Assembly may reject the proposed designation by a two thirds majority of Members present and voting. A formal motion to reject may be moved by any single Assembly Member during the meeting, and if seconded, will be considered and must be voted upon by the Assembly.

2. The meeting can be viewed via webcast.

3. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Alison Bell on 020 7983 4228. For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.