The ambitious plan to transform outdated railway and industrial lands at Old Oak Common has new clarity after a planning inspector recommended that housing ambitions for part of the 650-acre site occupied by Car Giant – the world’s largest independent car processing and retailing plant – should be removed from the local plan.
This decision will reduce the number of homes that can be built for the foreseeable future. The OPDC’s original plan had forecast 25,500 new homes and 65,000 new jobs. With Car Giant’s land out of the equation, the number of homes that can be delivered will be reduced from 20,100 to 14,200 and the jobs created from 40,400 to 37,590.
In 2017 Car Giant scrapped their plans to develop housing and move off their 46-acre site south of Willesden Junction where it employs 800 people, taking a view that it is not financially viable. In an interim report published in late September 2019, the inspector Paul Clark ruled: “Car Giant is a highly successful and profitable business with prospects for growth. Its extinction simply does not make sense in planning terms, nor does its relocation at an expense which would preclude the likelihood of paying for any contribution to necessary infrastructure or affordable housing.”
David Lunt, Chief Executive of the OPDC said that the decision was “not entirely unexpected…..We will, of course, continue to work closely with the inspector, Car Giant, and other landowners to see our local plan through to adoption.”
Andrew Dakers, CEO of West London Business reflected that the inspector’s decision comes as “little surprise to those who have been watching the process closely. The inspector’s scrutiny of the local plan provides helpful clarification of a realistic number of homes and jobs to be delivered. For Londoners that are homeless or living in overcrowded conditions 14,000+ homes are still a very significant contribution. The inspector highlights the success of Car Giant as a business and its potential for future growth.
“All stakeholders must now work together to leverage the potential of new housing alongside such a significant employer and, we hope, HS2’s Old Oak station too.
“Missing from far too much of the recent debate has been recognition of the critical role the OPDC still has to play in securing the future success of Park Royal, the UK’s largest and best-connected industrial estate. On this, the local plan provides a vital framework to create a highly productive, multi-story and low carbon Park Royal.’’
Car Giant and many other local businesses affected by the OPDC’s ‘Phase 1a’ plans for housing funded by £250million of Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) investment continue to watch these plans closely to see how the impacts on their operations will be mitigated.