Neighbourhood Plan proposed for Old Oak

I have written elsewhere about local communities gaining a greater say in the planning process by holding referendums to establish Neighbourhood Development plans. The initial evidence is they cause more homes to be built – but attractive homes in the right place with necessary infrastructure.

Mostly they have taken off outside London but I was interested to see that the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum have put in an application.

They note that the Government is “strongly supportive” of neighbourhood planning. The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation sound less keen. They want assurances a neighbourhood plan “will not obstruct, delay, or complicate what is already one of the UK’s most ambitious and complex regeneration programmes.”

But the Forum add:

“Joint designation by the OPDC and LBHF of Old Oak as a neighbourhood area offers an opportunity to demonstrate to Londoners how this devolved layer of the national planning system can deliver new urban development that is both supported by the public and sustainable over the long-term. This is of particular relevance where a development corporation, with limited local representation and democratic accountability, is acting as the planning authority. 

“A ‘new Old Oak’ which does not meet these basic success measures will stand for several decades as an example of the dysfunctions in the UK planning system, comparable to the failures of urban planning in the 1960s. This is an outcome that must be avoided.”

The scope of the neighbourhood plan would include

  • “contributing ideas and suggestions on what makes this part of inner west London distinctive and attractive to those who live and work here, including input to the 5 the term ‘custom-build’ being used as referring to a basic shell, constructed to meet Building Regulations, which can then be fitted out by owners
  • working up options and the detail of pedestrian and cycle routes across and beyond the Old Oak area. generating ideas for the future of the Grand Union Canal and its towpaths, as a key recreational amenity, cycle/pedestrian route, and heritage and environmental asset to the area.
  •  ensuring that the amenity value of Wormwood Scrubs is maintained, with its distinctive features and ecology and an appropriate balance between serving local and London-wide needs.
  • feeding into public consultation and debate on density levels and building heights at Old Oak, recognising that ambitious targets for homes and jobs within the OPDC area are currently set in London Plan strategic policies .
  • identifying scope for new amenity space and reviewing use of existing small green spaces, proposing Local Green Space designations within existing residential areas in cases where the demanding criteria set out in the NPPF are fulfilled.”

It acknowledges the  “statutory constraints”. I think that is code for saying that if the Mayor of London wants tower blocks then tower blocks there will be – regardless of whether local people want them or if the same density can be achieved in more attractive ways.

The proposed Old Oak neighbourhood area would include:

  • College Park – “terraced streets of Victorian housing east of Scrubs Lane and south of the Harrow Road, within LBHF. The area is isolated from the remainder of Hammersmith & Fulham and includes some 280 households. The street pattern is dense and there is little within the immediate area in terms of potential development sites. Strong development interest in the surrounding area has emerged in recent years, with a series of residential towers proposed in Scrubs Lane.
  • Woodmans Mews “to the west of Wood Lane/Scrubs Lane (and opposite North Pole Road in W12) includes 50 properties, with a mix of private and social housing. Across Wood Lane are housing association properties at 28 North Pole Road (79 houses and flats, managed by London Strategic Housing (LSH) an established part of Network Housing Group). Both these 9 9 small residential enclaves just outside the OPDC boundary are included within the proposed Old Oak neighbourhood area.
  • Old Oak Estate – “a cottage estate designed by the London County Council before the First World War in ‘garden city’ style, and built out after the war. The completed estate is made up of 1056 homes – 228 five-room, 443 four-room, 341 three-room, 27 two-room and 16 one-room flats. These were designed at a density of 27 cottages per acre (approximately 100 housing units per hectare, allowing for the fact that one ‘cottage’ can contain two dwellings). The estate is a Conservation Area within LB Hammersmith & Fulham and is a highly regarded example of social housing of the period. Properties are now some 50% owner-occupied and 50% managed by the Old Oak Housing Association. The housing association was set up in 1990 following a stock transfer from LBHF, and Family Mosaic HA is the major shareholder. Both the Housing Association and the ward councillor and LBHF Cabinet Member Wesley Harcourt have expressed the view that the whole estate, rather than the northern part only, should be included within an Old Oak neighbourhood area. This approach has been followed in this application.”

Plus a couple of bits in Ealing.

The proposal sounds to me welcome so far as it goes. I would like it to have the chance to offer a stronger alternative. Forget all the craven efforts to assure the OPDC planning officers that it won’t make much difference.

Why not offer a different vision for the 24,000 new homes that are currently planned? How about an ambition to achieve the same density but with something beautiful instead of the Mayor’s hideous proposals? Those who say that it is impossible should take a look at what Create Streets has proposed for Mount Pleasant.


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