Two of London’s largest regeneration projects have been promised more than half a billion pounds by the government to facilitate delivery of thousands of new homes.
The success of bids for schemes at Brent Cross and Old Oak Common, both of them in the outer north west of the capital, was announced by Chancellor Phil Hammond in his spring statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Barnet Council will have £320 million made available from the housing infrastructure fund (HIF) to spend on a new Thameslink Brent Cross West railway station, which is expected to lead to at least 7,500 dwellings being built in the Brent Cross Cricklewood development.
The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), created under Boris Johnson’s mayoralty to deliver the huge, 1,600 acre project straddling Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham, has been awarded £250 million from the same source to facilitate housing development in the mostly industrial Old Oak Common area close to the forthcoming HS2 station.
The funding decision has been welcomed by OPDC chair Liz Peace, who said investment in infrastructure in Old Oak “sends the right message to the market” and will “unlock opportunities for public and private sector collaboration”, while Sadiq Khan said the money will usher in a “new stage” in the development of the Old Oak part of the project area. Early works will include the installation of utilities and drainage systems, and energy centre and a new street, to be delivered by 2023.
However, the provision of the HIF money has been challenged by Cargiant, the secondhand vehicle sales and refurbishment firm that currently occupies 46 acres of Old Oak land north of the Grand Union Canal.
Managing director Tony Mendes said that although both “the GLA and the OPDC have publicly stated that this money would unlock the delivery of 13,000 homes, it does nothing of the sort”. Claiming it is “widely accepted” that Old Oak land to the south of the canal cannot be developed because the Crossrail depot already there would need to be moved, Mendes said “the same is true of the cost of moving Cargiant”.
Last month, Cargiant called for a “pause” in further public investment and a “full inquiry” into the OPDC’s fitness for its task, though Liz Peace has insisted she is committed “working constructively and flexibly” with all landowners in the area and has told On London that she believes the challenges presented by the Crossrail depot can be overcome.
Cargiant had worked up its own plans for redeveloping its land and relocating its business operations, but the OPDC concluded in 2017 that they were not financially viable. The company is currently in discussions with the OPDC over the alignment of a proposed new road which it says would, as things stand, have a significant effect on its business. It warns that if the OPDC “intends to proceed on the basis of using CPO [compulsory purchase] powers to take operational Cargiant land, then we will, of course, be bound to challenge each step of the process”.
On London will be carrying a more detailed article about the dispute between Cargiant and the OPDC next week.