Sadiq Khan has nominated a senior woman from the UK property industry to drive forward one of London’s largest redevelopment projects and sort out what he has described as the “mess” left by his predecessor, the current foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
Liz Peace, a former chief executive of the British Property Federation, will be appointed chair of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), responsible for a 1,600 acre (650 hectare) site in West London, subject to a London Assembly confirmation hearing.
The OPDC was set up by Johnson in April 2015 with powers to plan and bring about the delivery of an estimated 25,500 homes and create 65,000 jobs in the Old Oak Common railway depot area and adjoining Park Royal industrial estate as part of a regeneration project to also encompass a new railway station serving Crossrail and High Speed 2.
Peace, who is also a former chair of the think tank Centre for London, will be asked to swiftly act on the findings of a review commissioned by Mayor Khan, published last November, which said that Johnson had failed to secure sufficiently favourable terms for the transfer of land from the government to the corporation, made a weak case for government financial support and missed opportunities to make the best use of the site.
Khan said he looked forward to working with Peace on “delivering the highest level of genuinely affordable homes possible” on the site and ensuring that “we only enter into a land agreement with the government that is in the best interests of the city”. City Hall added that discussions will take place with the government with a view to some pieces of land being handed over early to speed up development.
Describing herself as “thrilled” to have been offered the OPDC job, Peace stressed that it entails working with three “local authority partners” – Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham Councils, which all have part of the development area within their boundaries – as well as the mayor and the private sector. Peace, who has 35 years’ experience in property and planning, was among the London Assembly planning committee’s guests last year when it examined how Khan might seek to revise the London Plan, the master blueprint for the capital’s spatial development.
Work on the first individual individual scheme on the Old Oak site is due to start soon, with an agreed target of 40% affordable housing out of the 605 to be built. The OPDC has recently been awarded £1.5m by the Great Place Scheme to fund arts and culture provision in the site as a whole, which has been described as home to the largest regeneration project in London since the 2012 Olympic Park.