Healthy Streets in the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation

Meeting: 
Plenary on 2017-09-07
Session date: 
September 7, 2017
Reference: 
2017/3379
Question By: 
Caroline Russell
Organisation: 
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
Victoria Hills (Chief Executive Officer, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation)

Question

How will you deliver the Mayor's vision for healthy streets in the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC)?

 

Answer

Answer for Healthy Streets in the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation

Answer for Healthy Streets in the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation

Answered By: 
Victoria Hills (Chief Executive Officer, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation)

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  As I alluded to earlier, this is a pretty virgin site, in a sense.  It is brownfield land and, even though it has lots of railway lines, we have to plan the transport infrastructure.  That allows us to do exactly what the Mayor wants in terms of delivering Healthy Streets and that absolutely underpins that the whole approach to our transport strategy.  Victoria, you talk about it.

 

Victoria Hills (Chief Executive, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  Yes thank you, Chair.  As set out, there is a fabulous opportunity here to have the ultimate Healthy Streets, if you like, because many of the streets that will exist in Old Oak are not there currently and the ones that are there are going to be removed or reconfigured.  We have been working very closely with Transport for London (TfL) right from the get-go and the GLA’s transport team here to understand the essence of the Healthy Streets proposal and to understand not only how Old Oak can emulate what the Mayor is trying to achieve in Healthy Streets but how Healthy Streets can unlock the potential of Old Oak.

 

We are talking about a very dense future part of London with very high levels of Public Transport Accessibility (PTAL).  It is currently down to a 1 or 2 PTAL rating.  By the time the HS2 station and Crossrail super-hub with the Great West Main Line opens in nine years’ time, it will be up in the 6-plus territory.  In fact, they may even have to invent a new level of rating for Old Oak.  There is an opportunity to be low car, zero car in part of it.  There is an opportunity to promote connections between the various stations in a way that entices people to walk and cycle.  Indeed, that is what we want to do because there is not a lot of space in this part of London to take vast amounts of new traffic.  The best way for people to move around between some of the relatively short distances between the other stations is to walk or cycle.  The best way to do that is to make it attractive to encourage people to do it.

 

Caroline Russell AM:  I have limited time and so I am just going to pause you there.  I am just checking.  When you say you are working with the GLA team, does that include Will Norman, the Walking and Cycling Commissioner?  Have you met with him?  You said you were going to.

 

Victoria Hills (Chief Executive, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  Yes, because when we spoke last, you very rightly suggested I did.  I have sat down and met with Will and Will has already been extremely insightful as to what we need to do going forward.  Indeed, he has helped us on various bids that we have made for cycling and walking infrastructure.  I have sat down with Will [Norman] and he is very excited about the opportunity here.

 

Caroline Russell AM:  In March [2017], you told us here at the Assembly that given the connectivity here, we really are talking about zero cars.  Why should we really not go for it here?  However, the Local Plan that has come out recently in policy T4 on parking says that you will limit car parking to 0.2 spaces per residential unit and that you will “strongly encourage” car-free developments in areas between PTAL 4 and 6B.  The rationale given is that car-free development cannot be supported until public transport infrastructure has been delivered.

 

This does not look like it is totally ambitious.  Can you not keep your zero-car ambition by providing, say, bus services until Crossrail infrastructure comes into place?  What does Will Norman have to say about going to 0.2?

 

Victoria Hills (Chief Executive, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  The policy you quote is currently out for consultation.  We are keen to hear views, yours and others.  It is a starting point which we have been discussing extensively with TfL and the GLA, very much in conformity for similar developments in and around London.

 

Should we be going more ambitious?  That is something that we are keen to discuss with you and others further.  The reality is that the infrastructure is not there at the moment and schemes are coming forward right now.  As Liz [Peace CBE] said, the schemes have been consented.  There is an element of futureproofing but, very practically, how do people get around at this moment in time?  We are working very closely with TfL Buses.  Any Member who has had experience of liaising with TfL Buses knows it is a very rigorous process to ensure that their network requirements are fully thought through.  We take the point on board.  It is an open consultation ‑‑

 

Caroline Russell AM:  If you could, look at the provision of interim small buses that could get over the need for waiting for Crossrail to come on.  Otherwise, you might miss some of these amazing opportunities you have.

 

Just a slightly technical thing about PTALs, which you have mentioned: there are some limitations to PTALs.  These are the Public Transport Accessibility Level measurements, for people who are watching the broadcast.  They have arbitrary cut-offs in terms of the distance from public transport stations and stops and the Healthy Streets potential for people to walk and cycle for those short neighbourhood trips is often ignored.  In fact, Liz was talking about how she had been walking all over the site and so it is doable.

 

In Camden, they are combining PTAL measurements with Access to Opportunities and Services (ATOS).  It is an alternative method for measuring transport connectivity, which can give you a more nuanced picture for decision-making.  Will you look at the Camden case and consider using ATOS as well as PTAL for your decision-making processes?

 

Victoria Hills (Chief Executive, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  The Camden example you cite is of most interest.  If TfL is not already looking at that more broadly, then I would be more than happy to raise that with them and ask them to look at it for this site.  It is a unique site.

 

Caroline Russell AM:  Fantastic. Thank you.

 

Victoria Hills (Chief Executive, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  Whether we will reach agreement with them that that is the right solution or not, I cannot comment on that.

 

Caroline Russell AM:  Of course, no, but that is agreement to look at it and that is fantastic.  Given the heavy reliance on private vehicles in Park Royal, do you think this is an ideal location to have a workforce parking levy?  Have those discussions between OPDC, the boroughs and TfL taken place?

 

Victoria Hills (Chief Executive, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  A workforce parking levy specifically for Park Royal is not a current topic of discussion with businesses.  That is not to say that it will not be in the future, but as a starting point for Park Royal businesses, many of them feel that there are some other improvements that they might like to see first before they are starting to pay for parking.  I am going to be brutally honest about it.  We are talking about decades of underinvestment in their infrastructure.  They have got some very basic needs on broadband and on electricity and it is going to be quite difficult to have a conversation to say they have to pay for something more before we can help to get them improvements in the short term.  Indeed, I am meeting with the Chair of the Park Royal Business Group this afternoon to talk about how we can progress some of these discussions.  We are not ruling anything in or out at this stage and we will certainly take that away and have a look at it, but we have some ‑‑

 

Caroline Russell AM:  Do, please, because in Nottingham the workplace parking levy paid for the installation of a whole new tram system and so the businesses that were paying for the parking through the workplace parking levy started to get the benefits of an alternative piece of infrastructure for travelling into work.  It was a benefit to those businesses specifically and the people working in those businesses.

 

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  We need to look at the Park Royal situation as a whole.  I do worry that it has been a bit neglected because we have been focusing on the other half.  We are trying to get the relationship with the Park Royal Business Group and a bigger, more vigorous engagement so that we could look at their total needs.  I am sure we will take this into account but I would second what Victoria said. 

 

Caroline Russell AM:  I have one more question for you before I run out of time.  I have read in the draft Local Plan about upgrades to the strategic road network (SRN).  I assume you are aware of what happened when the Westway was widened in 1970: traffic more than doubled in a decade along the Westway corridor.  That is not just along the Westway; it is a lot of whole network of streets around the Westway.  Please tell me you are not going to do something like this.  My question is: if that means road widening, how would road widening be helping the Mayor to hit his traffic reduction targets in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy?

 

Victoria Hills (Chief Executive, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  Let us just be very clear.  We are not the Highways Authority.  We take our lead absolutely from the Mayor’s strategic transport authority, TfL.  They have extensively looked at the network and what is required and what it is not.  They are not in the business of big road building for road building’s sake.  Indeed, they do not have the budgets for that.

 

Your reading of strategic upgrades to the SRN relates more to some strategic interventions on being able to cross the network, on rephasing of traffic signals, those sorts of things ‑‑

 

Caroline Russell AM:  Not road widening?

 

Victoria Hills (Chief Executive, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  ‑‑ rather than really large road widening.  I cannot sit here and tell you forensically what is in their roads investment programme, but I will certainly take it away and clarify that for you.

 

Caroline Russell AM:  I would be worrying to hear that the profits from the development are being used to widen the roads, which then might ruin the area in terms of Healthy Streets by swamping it with lots of extra traffic.

 

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation):  We do need new roads in some places and they will be built to the standard that TfL specifies, but it will have to take into account the overall fit into our overall strategy,