Governance and Leadership at the OPDC

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 29th July 2019.

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Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

[to the Interim Chief Executive] What will be the main priorities of the incoming Chief Executive?

Liz Peace CBE, Chair, OPDC:

Navin Shah AM:  Thank you Chair. The question touched upon the governance and leadership issue. You mentioned the situation with the chief executive. Can I ask, David, as the current Interim Chief Executive, what will be the main priorities of the incoming Chief Executive?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Thank you very much for the question. Very much building on what Liz has said in her introductory remarks, I have come into an organisation that has spent a considerable amount of time preparing the ground to see regeneration happen in the area. The focus has been very much on establishing the OPDC, very much on trying to create the planning framework to enable development to happen and also, of course, crucially, preparing the ground to try to secure some funding in order to bring land and infrastructure forward.

Now that we are in the final stages of the planning process - because the final hearing for the planning inspector to review our draft Local Plan is on 18 July [2019] - we are confident that we will have a Local Plan adopted in the next few months. That then gives us the basis for moving ahead with a programme of drawing down the HIF funding, the £250 million that Liz has already mentioned. Secondly, it then gives us the basis to really begin the process of land acquisition, which is going to be very important for our first phase development. Thirdly, it also gives us the basis to start to deliver some early sites and the infrastructure that is necessary to develop those sites. That primarily is about opening up a major new access road through the north end of Old Oak, which is necessary in order to secure development, and secondly to provide the energy and utilities infrastructure which currently is not there at the capacity we need to bring new homes and new employment to the area.

What does that mean in terms of a Chief Executive’s priorities? It is very much to ensure that we have the capability within the team to, if you like, move from planning and strategy into delivery. That is why, again, as Liz mentioned in her opening remarks, in the last couple of months we have moved to strengthen the senior team. We have recruited recently a Director of Land and Property who has a lot of experience and is very able. We have also brought in a Director of Development from the commercial sector who again has a lot of very useful senior-level experience. I have also supplemented the team with two senior consultants who have a very long senior track record at delivering comprehensive regeneration projects. I think the senior team now is poised to undertake those priority areas of work that I have mentioned.

The second thing, though - and this is very important - is that we also need to have a very serious engagement outside of the OPDC with a range of organisations. It is quite a comprehensive and complicated picture, but there are some key agencies that we need to work very closely with. That includes Network Rail, which is the major landowner for our early-phase development. We have very good relationships, I am pleased to say, at a senior level with Network Rail. Secondly, obviously Homes England, MHCLG and the Government, in order to address the conditions around the HIF funding and make sure that we are in a position to satisfy those conditions and move to contract in the next few months. Thirdly, we have an ongoing dialogue, a very detailed dialogue now, with all of the landowners and local interests in the area that we are looking to develop in our first phase. We issued formal letters explaining our plans three or four weeks ago, and there is a very busy process of engagement. Lastly but by no means least, a wider discussion involving the three boroughs that we cover and the communities that they represent. There is a very busy programme of community engagement.

If I was going to summarise it, I would say there is a very important delivery job around land assembly, around infrastructure and early development, which is very much the business of the strengthened senior team; there is an ongoing process of dialogue with community interests and local businesses; and then thirdly there is this big external piece with strategic stakeholders including Government. Those really are the priorities over the next period.

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

In two seconds, can you tell me when you expect the new Chief Executive to be in post?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Perhaps I could chip in here because we decided, once we had lured David to come and work for us, and once we had persuaded him - and he indeed had persuaded the GLA that he could spend four days a week [working with OPDC] - we have paused the recruitment of a permanent Chief Executive. David, first of all, is doing an excellent job, has all the contacts we need and knows the background, knows the subject area well, and of course has tremendous expertise in the whole housing agenda. Also, it is quite difficult to go out to the market for a Chief Executive when you still have a number of uncertainties that you need to nail. We need to get our Local Plan adopted. We need to get the HIF money in the bank. We need to get started on the land acquisition process. I have agreed with the GLA that we would suspend the permanent Chief Executive recruitment, and David is with us for the foreseeable future. We have not put a specific timeframe on that, but we talked about at least six months.

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

Thank you. I will leave it at that, though it does pose a number of other questions which I will take up outside this meeting. Thank you very much.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

We are still on governance and leadership at the OPDC.

Photo of Caroline Pidgeon Caroline Pidgeon Liberal Democrat

In terms of your priorities, stakeholder engagement, genuine stakeholder engagement must surely be the key one, but the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum has told us that you have failed to listen and genuinely engage with the community. To David: why have you not adopted all the recommendations from the May 2016 review of OPDC, which included setting up regular forums outside the Board?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I will just deal with half of that and then hand over to David because I am very aware of some of the comments from the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum which I would have to say I feel are misleading. At Board level, when we refreshed the Board, and this was a process we had to ‑‑

Photo of Caroline Pidgeon Caroline Pidgeon Liberal Democrat

I am not asking about the Board. I specifically asked about setting up regular forums outside the Board.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

No, this is relevant because what I want to do with the Board is ensure that the people we have brought onto the Board have a method for engaging or observing, listening and being part of the consultation within the neighbourhoods, but the neighbourhood forum is a very specific area. I want to ensure that we are reaching all the different groups that represent people’s interests, particular sorts of things ‑‑

Photo of Caroline Pidgeon Caroline Pidgeon Liberal Democrat

How are you doing that? What have you done to set up fora?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

What we are trying to do - we have not completed it yet because it is work in progress - is I have asked the team, or the team has already been out to the Grand Union Alliance to explore with them whether they are the forum that would bring together all the different groups we wish to liaise with. We have offered to put resource into the Grand Union Alliance, not because we want to dictate its agenda but simply to enable it to function as a coming together of all the different interests within the area. I cannot remember the actual number, but there are at least 15 or 16 different local amenity type groups and I want to hear from all of them.

The Grand Union Alliance has gone away to think about that, but if we could give it some resource that enabled it to organise itself so that we would have a way of interacting, I then have two or three of the Board members I would detail to be that interface and listen to what the representative forum is saying. That is my plan for how to manage the community engagement.

Quite separately, we will of course listen to and talk to the neighbourhood forum and the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum. We have funded it already to hire a consultant to help it prepare its plan. It was difficult engaging with it initially because it had some issues around its own organisation and putting forward people that could engage with us. I would strongly contest any suggestion that we have failed to engage with these people.

Photo of Caroline Pidgeon Caroline Pidgeon Liberal Democrat

OK. I want to move on to another question. I have limited time. The wording you use is “manage community engagement”. I think you might want to reflect on the language you use because if I was the community I would not want to feel that I was being “managed”.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I am managing a process to enable the community to engage properly. I am not trying to manage a community. I think that would be ridiculous.

Photo of Caroline Pidgeon Caroline Pidgeon Liberal Democrat

You said, “Manage community engagement”.  They were your words.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I am managing a process.

Photo of Caroline Pidgeon Caroline Pidgeon Liberal Democrat

If I could move on, four years ago the previous Mayor talked about the area being transformed into one of London’s most exciting areas to live, work and play. Your website says you are developing a whole new centre and community for west London. Is this really true? Isn’t the reality that most of the new developments to reach construction to date have been granted by the London Borough of Ealing and not OPDC? I really want you to explain. We have just over a minute. Has OPDC delivered anything that the boroughs could not have alone?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  I think the facts are that there are something like 3,500 homes that have been granted planning consent since OPDC was established in 2015. I think the majority of those planning applications have been determined by OPDC. It is the case, of course, that because OPDC is delegated back to Ealing’s responsibility in its patch, it too has consented quite a number of homes. There has been a fair amount of activity. Oakland South, which is a major new development by Notting Hill Genesis, is going to be complete next year [2020], and that is a very exciting mixed scheme with new commercial space as well as a lot of affordable housing. There is also all the development that is going on on the old Biaggio site, so there is a lot of activity there. There are a lot of planning consents being granted on Scrubs Lane on the eastern end of our site, and we are confident that we can bring many hundreds of new homes forward there.

In terms of the question about what OPDC has been able to do that perhaps the boroughs would not have been able to do alone, the main thing I would point to is the HIF money. Without a development agency sitting at the heart of the project, it would have been extremely difficult to have convinced Government to have accepted or indeed processed the £250 million from the HIF. Bearing in mind that the money that has been secured in principle through that route is at the maximum ceiling level that Government is able to allocate through here. I think that is a reflection of the confidence that Homes England and MHCLG have in the arrangements. It would have been very difficult to have secured that in the event that it was without some sort of agency representing those three boroughs.

Photo of Shaun Bailey Shaun Bailey Conservative

Good morning, Liz. Good morning, David. Given that a significant area of the OPDC site is strategic industrial locations, how will you be affected by the Mayor’s new London Plan policy of no net loss of strategic industrial locations? How will it affect your delivery?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

If you look at our long-term objectives, we are not just about building homes. Even though the core of the site will be residential, there is still provision within our Local Plan and indeed within our masterplanning for significant commercial space, 65,000 jobs’ worth of commercial space.

We are also looking at how we can intensify the availability of Strategic Industrial Land (SIL) in Park Royal. That was one of the reasons for having Park Royal within the boundary of the Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC), that we can achieve a degree of trade-off. If a big chunk of land goes out of SIL in the core of the Old Oak bit, we can expand the amount of SIL and the amount of SIL floorspace, if not the actual acreage, in Park Royal and around the periphery of Park Royal.

Personally, I have always strongly believed that if you are building new districts and new communities, it should not be about just homes. It has to be about jobs because you want to build a complete community, and that remains our ambition. I am confident that that is the direction we will continue to go in and continue to implement.

Photo of Shaun Bailey Shaun Bailey Conservative

I agree with you. It sounds correct; you do not just want to build an oasis of homes and have nowhere to work. Are you confident you can deliver 25,000 homes with no net loss? Of course, we have been promised 25,000 new ‑‑

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

At this stage I would say I believe we can over the period of the plan. I am absolutely sure we will. Part of the way in which that industrial land has developed and grown up over the years, it is a big, low, flat land use. It is lots of single-storey sheds and stuff. When we look at our plans for how we want to introduce new types of units, how we want to introduce new types of business, how we are working with lots of the neighbours, we are working with Imperial College West to look at how we can encourage spinout businesses, we are working with the Park Royal community to look at how that can expand. I think it would be an admission of failure if I said at this stage I am not confident that I can do it. We have to have the confidence that we will.

Photo of Shaun Bailey Shaun Bailey Conservative

How are you going to achieve it? Is it already in your plans to achieve the 25,000 homes? I cannot see how this is going to be done. It is nice to say you can do it and you want to do it, but how are you actually going to do it?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I will pass over to David on the technicalities of this, and this might be something we have to write to you on, but I am not sure whether we have it foot-by-foot or acre-by-acre or job-by-job-by-job. 65,000 jobs sounds pretty impressive to me in terms of what we are going to be creating. Can you help me on this one?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Bear in mind that our area, our patch if you like, has been designated as an Opportunity Area for a considerable period of time. It spans more than one mayoralty. That Opportunity Area Planning Framework has set out at a strategic level how land should be released for residential and mixed-use development, but you are right, we do not want to see any net loss of jobs and employment. In fact, we want to see more, which is why we have this long-term goal of achieving 65,000 jobs.

As Liz has pointed out, it would be wrong to imagine that the development corporation’s patch is just about Old Oak and, if you like, the land that is going to come forward largely for housing development. It is also very much about Park Royal. It is about nurturing those businesses. It is about intensifying use. We are looking very actively at the moment to develop some pilots for looking at vertical stacking of industrial development so that we can make more intense use of what otherwise are quite low-density sites. What we will find is we will see a mix of intensified existing uses, we will see new residential development, and we will see a lot of commercial development, particularly perhaps around a new HS2 station, which, as we know, once it is there is going to be a piece of transport station infrastructure which is going to be busier and larger than Waterloo Station. This has tremendous capability and potential to generate new jobs at a denser level, frankly, than the kind of employment profile that we have on the site at the moment.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Good morning. I want to talk about community engagement. The OPDC has launched a community review group to reflect local interests when deciding planning outcomes in the area. However, there are no details on the london.gov.uk website that show who is on the membership of this, when they meet and what the minutes are. Why is this the case? Why isn’t this all published?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I was not aware that it was not published. There is nothing secret about the community review group. If it has not been published, that must be an administrative oversight.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

If you can publish it on the london.gov.uk site - that is the site where the OPDC sits - we can access it easily. I was trying to get hold of who the membership was of the review panel.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

We have certainly published the membership of the review panel because I remember seeing the press release about it, but we can make sure. We will take that away, absolutely.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

I want to know who the members are, how often they meet, what they discuss, what they think.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Yes. No problem. There is nothing secret about that at all.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Great. Thank you very much. The other thing is that I understand that the community review discussions have turned into a formal report that feeds into the decision of the OPDC and the OPDC Planning Committee. Will you publish a report on what has been the impact of those discussions by the community review group?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  We have undertaken to have an annual review of the group’s activities, and I am very happy to say that once that annual review is concluded we can publish that review, or at least a summary of that review, because ‑‑

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

When do you think it will be published? When will it be concluded, rather?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  I am not quite sure when it was created, but it was three or four months ago.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

It was only set up about three months ago. If we are committed to this annual report, it will be in about nine months, possibly a bit more, to actually do it.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Probably next spring [2020].

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Yes, next spring [2020].

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Just to come back to the Board, are you able to give us more detail as to how the Board was selected, commit to putting up a full list of who is on the Board, with details of their backgrounds and also their community connections?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Yes. Sorry, did you say you would like to know how the Board was selected?

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

How they were selected, and what their community connections are. I understand that the local community feels that only two members of the Board may have connections with the community, although your materials say that everyone is living in the OPDC area.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Correct.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

I really want to establish: are there genuine connections with the community? Is the community being given representation?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

When, as I say, a large number of our original Board members had to step down because of the rules, we ran a competition. We made it clear that we were looking for a broad range of interests. Included in that were people who had local connections, local knowledge, who could feel the area and really understand it both from a business and a residential perspective. We also wanted people who had a broad range of expertise in the whole business of how you do engagement with communities and also how local businesses run. What we ended up with after the selection process was quite a large field to choose from. We had a very rigorous selection process which included myself, David Bellamy [Mayor’s Chief of Staff], Jules Pipe [Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills] and an independent assessor sitting on the Board. We went through the usual longlist and shortlist.

We ended up with a group of people that we felt married up local connections. One of them lives in the area. One of them used to live in the area and is an expert in the whole theory of community engagement. One is a business expert and another one ‑‑

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

That is great. Will you publish this? Will you publish who the members are?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

The members are indeed on the website and their backgrounds are on the website.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Also a little bit of background on what the members represent.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I was under the impression their backgrounds were, but if they are not, I am happy to write to you with a full explanation of that.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Put it on the website, please.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

We will make sure it is on the website if it is not already, yes.

Photo of Onkar Sahota Onkar Sahota Labour

Thank you.

Léonie Cooper AM: I wondered if you could set out how many apprenticeships have been started as a result of OPDC’s work up to date, and how diverse are they in terms of the people who have gone into them?

Apprenticeships have tended to be dominated by traditional groups. It would be nice to think that in this modern day and age of equality that we are managing to get people from a wide range of backgrounds, more women and so on and so forth.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Yes. We have certainly created a number of apprentices, and I am just struggling to find the number, because I asked for that information. I know that we had created a number as a consequence of our planning work. Forgive me. It might take me ‑‑

Léonie Cooper AM: Maybe you can send me that number afterwards.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  I can drop you a line with that. What I do not have to hand is the detailed profile of that cohort, but I can certainly retrieve that for you.

Léonie Cooper AM: That would be good. How are you linking that in with the Mayor’s strategic aims in his Skills Strategy for the overall OPDC area? Obviously, you have a number of different areas that you are working on, not just planning and construction. It is quite diverse, isn’t it?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Yes. That is right. We are doing a lot of work with the Park Royal business community on this, so we are looking to establish a new employment and skills hub in Park Royal.

Léonie Cooper AM: I was going to ask you about that. You are saying it is not quite set up still?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  That is right, it is not, but it is well underway. The idea is to do a number of things, not only to support new entrants and apprenticeships but also to support and sustain new businesses in Park Royal and west London, to provide business advice, and generally focus as well very much on linking in with the work that the Mayor is doing around construction skills with his Construction Skills Academy. I have just found the number of apprentices, by the way. I knew I would get there in the end. It is 71 at the moment. We have achieved a minimum of 71 through the Section 106 Agreements that we have completed since 2015.

Léonie Cooper AM: Perhaps you could give us the diversity breakdown of them.  I am happy to receive that afterwards.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Yes, I am very happy to look into that.

Léonie Cooper AM: You are still not quite there with the skills hub with having it going live. What work has gone into it so far?  You were talking about working with others, which is great. When do you think that is going to be up and running?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  The target date for that at the moment is next spring.

Léonie Cooper AM: Next spring?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Spring 2020, yes. As you may know, this is a partnership between OPDC, the London Boroughs of Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham. We are working closely as well with the Department for Work and Pensions and West London College. We have a site; it is going to be near the Park Royal centre. As I have already explained, it will cover a range of issues with a particular focus on construction because obviously we hope to be able to influence that as we bring forward our development sites and infrastructure, but also very much linking into the existing business infrastructure within Park Royal and wider west London.

Léonie Cooper AM: Thanks very much.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

How would you describe the relations between the OPDC leadership and Cargiant?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Interesting.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Probably less positive than they were a year ago, I think is the honest assessment. That is a fairly well-known fact I think. Certainly a year ago Cargiant, as colleagues may be aware, was actively thinking about bringing its main site forward for development. Its view on that has changed, and that is a matter of public record now.

We are still in touch with Cargiant. It is at the moment reserving its position in terms of formal engagement because it clearly is raising objections to the draft Local Plan which is currently going through its EiP process. There have been communications recently, including invitations to OPDC’s Board to visit. There was a visit that we were involved in through the Cargiant site at its invitation with the planning inspector last month. I think it is fair to say that Cargiant and the OPDC are not entirely aligned at the moment in terms of our planning and regeneration objectives.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

The visit that you referred to or the invitation for a visit - and, I understand, a presentation to the OPDC Board - you refused, though, didn’t you?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

No, we did not refuse it. We actually had a date in the diary to ‑‑

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

I have an email in front of me here, sent by David on 25 June [2019], which says:

“Let’s discuss tomorrow, but I hope you don’t mind me being direct if I say that for me a Board-only visit would cross a red line, and I strongly advise that GW [that is Geoff Warren, owner of Cargiant] is given no quarter on this, including giving the Board this as an option. It is a fundamental point of principle that OPDC’s exec must be present and GW must not be allowed to drive a wedge between non-execs and execs, a position which I know my team shares equally strongly. Can we also agree that there should be no further written comms with CG [Cargiant] without prior discussion as I am anxious that we don’t inadvertently prejudice our position?”

That sounds like a refusal.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

That is entirely true. I do not know whether you have seen the previous email exchange or you have just been given a selection of it, but I had engaged in an email exchange with Geoff Warren in which I said I was very happy to bring ‑‑ in fact, I did say I thought the whole Board would be less than helpful if you have a great circus making a visit.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

Apparently you offered one Board member.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I said I would be happy to take the Investment Committee to meet him. We had a date in the diary. I managed to round up the key members of the Investment Committee. I spoke to the executive. We agreed, because we are non-executive Board members, that it would be sensible to have members of the executive with us on that visit. I emailed Geoff Warren and said I was proposing to bring David [Lunts] and two other members of the team, and he wrote back and said we would not be welcome on that basis. That was what prompted ‑‑

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

What was the objection to all of the Board going on the site visit?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

First of all, orchestrating it at this stage. It was difficult enough getting the Investment Committee together, given that the general leave season has started. I thought, in the interests of getting it up and running as quickly as possible to take the Investment Committee. I do not think it is necessary for the whole Board to troop around. We manage a system of delegated responsibility. We have an Investment Committee to look at issues of investment. They would report back fully to the Board. That is how I would expect matters to be handled in industry or in Government. You do not have to take everybody. I am perfectly happy to reopen the possibility of a greater number of the Board. In fact, I offered the invitation to a number of members of the Board because I knew one or two of the Investment Committee were having trouble with their diaries. I think we would have had a very good representative sample.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

It is the language in this email that is interesting. How would the Board going to Cargiant collectively be “driving a wedge” between anybody?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I do not think it is the issue about the Board collectively. I think it is the issue of the Board not being allowed to take any of their executives with them. I do not believe it is a particularly sensible way of proceeding for somebody like one of our landowners to be dictating who can come on a visit to see the operation, when it is the executive who have to give advice to the non-executives. That does not mean the non-executive Board would necessarily take that advice, but it is extremely helpful for the executives to be present and hear what we are hearing. That is the way I have always worked in Government. When Ministers make visits or when Members of Parliament (MPs) make visits, they generally have one or two executives with them.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

To be honest, I am not going to argue that point because I agree with you. I am more puzzled why the Board members themselves should not be allowed to go.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Sorry. I do not follow.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

The invitation, as I understand it, was extended individually to every Board member, and there has been action taken to prevent that from happening.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

No, not prevent it from happening. My suggestion to the Board was that we should let the Investment Committee go in the first instance because we could set that up more quickly, and I think the Investment Committee - who are all Board members, by the way - would be able to get to grips with the issues rather more easily than having 12 people trooping around. It is a matter of practical management. That was all. There is nothing sinister saying, “I don’t want the Board to go”. Geoff Warren has now invited the whole of the [London Assembly’s] Budget and Performance Committee as well. I have no doubt that they will make up their mind on who they want to go, but I am sure they will want to have some officials with them if they go.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

Speaking as the Chairman of the Budget and Performance Committee, you are right, of course. We will take officials. I do not know how many Members are going to go. I am certainly going to go.

One more question on Cargiant. What obligations does the OPDC have in terms of relocating Cargiant, should the plans go forward?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I will let David explain the technicalities of this because there are two ways of looking at acquisition of the Cargiant land.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  The first thing I would want to say is that it is really quite important to us that we try to secure a constructive dialogue with Cargiant. We are certainly not interested in a standoff position. We think that Cargiant’s interests and OPDC’s interests can be aligned. They do not appear to be at the moment, but we are hopeful that in due course we will have a constructive engagement with it.

We are going to be looking to bring forward our early-phase development sites. That will include the acquisition and development of a relatively small amount of Cargiant’s land. We are being very careful in preparing our plans to minimise any impacts on the Cargiant business because we certainly do not want to undermine its viability, and that is why we are still in a process of working through the precise alignment of some of our early-stage infrastructure. We have repeatedly made the suggestion to Cargiant that they sit down and engage with us in that exercise so that we can properly understand how best to take account of their current business needs. That is the first thing to say.

The second thing to say is that we would very much hope that we can move forward to acquire Cargiant land interests through negotiation. Obviously, compulsory purchase is an ultimate backstop position and we may have to use it, but that is not our intention. Our intention would be to seek to settle with Cargiant and indeed any other landowners at Old Oak through private treaty negotiation. The obligations that sit with us in terms of the statutory code and requirements around compulsory purchase, if indeed we get to that point, do involve the option of looking actively at relocation. That is something that we have done a lot of work to assess. We know as well that Cargiant themselves have looked very seriously at the option of relocation in recent years, and we stand ready at every point to seek an active discussion and engagement with the owners of Cargiant to see if we can assist with their relocation plans.

I appreciate at the moment they are saying that they have no wish to relocate, but clearly, if we are successful in bringing forward our draft local plan, successful in drawing down our HIF allocation and successful in terms of delivering our objectives, then it will in time require Cargiant to move. We think we can assist with that process. We think it is perfectly viable to relocate the business. That offer is something that remains on the table with the owners of Cargiant.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

Have you identified an alternative site?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  We have identified what we believe to be a potential alternative site.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

Have you communicated that to Cargiant?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  As I have said, unfortunately at the moment Cargiant is not willing to formally or actively communicate with us beyond extending an invitation to the Board to have a visit and presentation on the terms that Liz [Peace] has just explained. The position that Cargiant has put to us on the record is that until the Local Plan process EiP is concluded - which it will be, we hope, in the next two to three weeks - it is not willing to formally engage with us. Clearly, once the EiP is over, we will seek to reengage with them. Relocation is certainly one of those items that we are very keen to discuss with them.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

My original question was: how would you characterise the relations between the OPDC leadership and Cargiant? It is fair to say they have broken down, then?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  As I say, Cargiant has taken the view that it does not want to have any formal engagement with OPDC at this stage, and it has made it clear to us that ‑‑

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Other than the Board. Geoff Warren is very happy to have the Board visit.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Yes, but on his terms. In terms of an active, formal engagement with Cargiant and the executive team at OPDC, until the EiP process is concluded, the owners of Cargiant have said that they do not wish to have an active engagement with us. They have given the reason for that as being that they do not want to compromise their objections or their position as objectors to the draft Local Plan.

Photo of Fiona Twycross Fiona Twycross Labour

I would like to ask, what added value is the OPDC providing to London and particularly the local economies?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Initially, our value is in planning for a future new district. It would be difficult to actually put a number on what we have currently contributed, other than that we have lifted a number of functions, particularly the planning function, from the three boroughs, which we are doing on the boroughs’ behalf, except with the redelegation back to Ealing of the particular area around Acton. What we have done is prepared a Local Plan, prepared a masterplan, which gives us a blueprint for creating a future district that is going to bring home some jobs. That is when we will be delivering the value to London.

Photo of Fiona Twycross Fiona Twycross Labour

How will you be supporting employment opportunities for local people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds that we would particularly like to see benefit from this project?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

David [Lunts] has talked a little bit about our apprentice programme already. We will certainly be following the practice of the Olympic Delivery Authority when we get to the stage of doing major works on the site of expecting developers who employ contractors to create local job opportunities, to create apprenticeships. We are supporting the businesses in Park Royal in every way we conceivably can, and they have a very, very strong local employment ethos. Obviously, they prefer to employ local people. It is easier to get local people into Park Royal. I think the longer-term job creation is bound to help the local jobs market. Where we have the power to intervene to make sure people do take locals, then we will do so. We do not have that power in a lot of places but we can simply encourage.

Photo of Fiona Twycross Fiona Twycross Labour

What types of jobs are you expecting to be in the regenerated OPDC, and how will you ensure that local residents have the necessary skills to apply for them? This is about more than apprenticeships, really.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Yes. First of all, we will have a construction phase, so there will be construction jobs. As David has already said, very much leveraging off the Mayor’s whole approach to construction skills and his skills academy and looking at how we can use that, how we can work with the local colleges, and indeed we are already doing that, to make sure people are skilled to take advantage of that. That is the construction phase.

In the longer term, we cannot be absolutely clear about the types of businesses that we are going to attract to OPDC, and I would hope that there would be a big cross-section. I mentioned earlier that we are almost contiguous with Imperial West and the whole healthcare, public health spinoff from Imperial, so I would hope there would be high-quality, research-type, spinoff product development jobs there. There is a whole artistic quarter developing in Harlesden, north of Willesden Junction. I hope that will be able to encourage people from there to spill over into OPDC. I would hope that we would be able to build on the extraordinary range of activities that currently happen in Park Royal. That has everything from lower-skilled assembly-type jobs right through to highly-skilled jobs. There is a stained glass workshop there. The people who work in that are clearly hugely skilled.

Then, around the actual station, when HS2 is completed and we can see the development of that space, we are going to have a much more traditional office where I would hope that we would be able to attract head offices of international corporations because it will be a fabulously connected spot. I think we are going to have a really good opportunity to get a cross-section of different employment.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

I would like to ask you a couple more questions about Cargiant, if I may. You mentioned that you want to purchase a small amount of its land. How much is that as a percentage figure?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

As a percentage of what?

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

As a percentage of its total land for the phase 1A development.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I will let David [Lunts] get into the detail, but yes, there are two stages to this. Just for ease of reference, let’s call it 1A and 1B. 1A, which we have also called the Northern Arc and Union Road - it seems to have had umpteen different names - is the one where we will require some relatively small parts of Cargiant’s site, and David can explain those.

1B is the bulk of the Cargiant site, which, when it ultimately comes forward, clearly, if we are going to develop that, Cargiant will not be able to stay. That is what we have to look at some sort of future agreement about. One or other of us will have to develop it. Cargiant’s business will have to go somewhere else.

Let us just deal with 1A first, the little packets of land where we are trying to absolutely minimise the amount we need to take. We have spent months looking at this about how we can design our plans so that we really do not take a significant amount of that.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Do you know what percentage it is?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  We have issued what we call a dotted red line plan, which is the plan that we are using to go out and spend time consulting in detail with occupiers and landowners. It is a dotted line because we are still refining our final plans that will inform how much land we need to take. The dotted line obviously contains a wider area than we think is likely to be necessary once we conclude our plans, probably in a few months’ time.

Within our phase 1A plans, in other words our early delivery phase, which is associated directly with our HIF investment, we are potentially going to be looking to acquire around 25% of Cargiant’s land ownership. However - I can see the expressions - very little of that is actually operational land for Cargiant’s main business. A large amount of that land that we are looking to acquire for phase 1A development is long leasehold interest that Cargiant has in non-related functions.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

You say that. What percentage of that is operational land?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  We think certainly well under 10%, probably closer to 5%.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

10% of the whole of Cargiant’s land?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Yes.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

You are saying 10%. You want to acquire 25% of Cargiant’s land for phase 1A, of which 15% is non-operational and 10% is operational. Is that your answer?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  No, no. I do not want to be held very specifically to numbers because, as I say, our plans are evolving. What I am saying is that within our published dotted red line it is about 25%, but the vast majority of that is non-operational. It is land that Cargiant owns as investments. It has other businesses that are not connected directly with the Cargiant operation. If you look at the Cargiant operation, which is about retail space, it is about operational factory-style units where they process vehicles and so forth. We are not looking to take that in our phase 1A plans. It is primarily land that Cargiant owns as investment but is non-operational. Some of it is road space which they use for what they call a test track to test vehicles, and we are confident that there are alternatives locally that can be used for testing vehicles. It is things like car parks ‑‑

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

You are confident. Have you identified alternative localities for the test track, then?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Yes, we certainly have.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

Can you say what they are?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  No, not here and now without site plans and so forth. We have very carefully looked at how we can avoid impacting the operational business of Cargiant, which is why, as I say, the amount of operational land that we may be looking to acquire for early-phase development is going to be very marginal indeed. We are quite confident that we can evidence that this will not impact in any detrimental way to its business.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

How many homes do you plan to build on that 25% of Cargiant’s land that you want to purchase for phase 1A? What do you propose to do with that land?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Our first-phase development we think will deliver around about 3,000 homes.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

That is not just Cargiant land, though.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  No, no. That is the whole of phase 1A.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

That is phase 1A.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

My question was, how many homes are you planning to build on the 25% of Cargiant’s land that you want to purchase? What precisely do you plan to do with just the land that you want to purchase from Cargiant for phase 1A? How many homes, and what else are you going to do with it?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  I am not going to give a figure to that at the moment because, as I say, our plan is still being worked through. The reason that we are consulting ‑‑

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

You are not sure.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  -- within this dotted red line boundary is to understand as precisely as we can what the needs of the various landowners and businesses are, and to use that process to finally align or secure an alignment for the infrastructure we need and the alignment for the precise development plots. We are a considerable way away from lodging a planning application.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

I do not have an awful lot of time so I just want to get an answer from you. You mentioned 3,000 homes for the whole of phase 1A. How much of phase 1A in terms of land is that 25% you want to purchase from Cargiant? Is the 25% of Cargiant’s land just a small part of phase 1A or is it a large part of phase 1A?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Phase 1A is a combination of development plots which will be largely residential development - not exclusively but largely residential development - utilities infrastructure and roads. Hard infrastructure. The land that we need to acquire that currently is engaged for the long leasehold interest of Cargiant is land that will either be developed for housing or other things, or it will be land that is required because we need to construct the new east-west access road through it.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

We have not, for example, decided exactly where an energy centre would go. An energy centre might end up on that piece of Cargiant land or a piece of other land. There is Network Rail land. There is other land ‑‑

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

You are not certain yet about what is going to be on that land.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Especially since we are still or would like to be engaged in negotiation with Cargiant about how we can accommodate its particular needs.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

Let me ask you another question, Chair. I understand that in a meeting of the Assembly [Budget and Performance Committee] here on 11 June [2019] you said that, provided we can crack on and work around the Cargiant land ownership, you could start phase 1A. Is that correct?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Yes.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

It is? OK. You could start phase 1A without this purchase of Cargiant’s land? Is that what you meant by that?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

No, sorry. What I meant by that comment was that, provided we can come to a sensible accommodation about the small parts of land that we need, which we genuinely do not believe would impact on Cargiant business, we can get cracking and Cargiant can carry on running its business. That is the ideal position that I would like to get to.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

Did you mean by that you want to purchase that 25%?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

We do need some small parts of Cargiant’s land, yes.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

25% of Cargiant’s land?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

25% of its overall landholding, yes, but not 25% of its car business land.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

OK, but that is 10% of the land you want approximately would be ‑‑

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Up to 10%, but we have not confirmed that yet because we cannot engage.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

You are coming back to confirm what David [Lunts] said there earlier. Have you already started a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process for that land? Have you already initiated the CPO process?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

We have started a process. I am not sufficient of a CPO expert to know what counts as a CPO process. What we have done is published our red line.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

David, are you a sufficient expert in CPOs to answer the question?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  We have not issued a resolution to move to compulsory purchase, but what we have done is a detailed land referencing exercise and we have issued what are called section 5A notices, which are the notices that have gone to all of the interests within what I have referred to as the dotted red line boundary. That is an important part of a process that any agency or organisation with compulsory purchase powers needs to do, because unless we can evidence the fact that we have spoken in detail to all of the local interests that are within our plan area about their business needs, their concerns and their requirements, unless we can evidence that we have been through that process ‑‑

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

That is part of the process. You have started it.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  -- then it is going to be quite difficult to move into the more formal process which will start at some point in the next period. We have started the essential preliminary works which could ultimately need to compulsory purchase, is the answer.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

Thank you for your answers.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

Good morning. Moving on to the issue of placemaking, how will you ensure that any development’s proposals deliver the highest standards of placemaking, urban design and architecture? I do not know which of you wants to have a go at this one.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I will start and David will chip in. You and I have discussed this before. In fact, it has come up on a number of occasions. Personally, I would not have taken on this job if I had not been interested in creating something that people would look at as an exemplar of placemaking. I can think of places in London that I do not consider to have done that. I have lived and worked in London for many years.

We have a very strong focus on how we have started to master-plan the site and we have done a big master-planning exercise over the last two years. We have significant amounts of green space. Yes, we are looking at high-density development. It is no higher than other acceptable high-density developments in London. The importance of high density is that it is well designed and it is well planned. It is certainly not nearly as dense as, for example, the Nine Elms Battersea area. There is a big focus on environmental quality, a big focus on the right sort of transport infrastructure to allow people to not have cars, a big focus on substantial amounts of green space.

I believe we are doing everything we conceivably can from a planning perspective, a plan-making perspective, not a planning authority perspective - I am making that distinction - to ensure that we have the highest placemaking objectives in what we are doing. We have our own head of design. We have a design review panel. We also have a design review group, which is different, and so two separate elements of that. I have sat in on meetings with our head of design discussing the HS2 station. I know how rigorously they take anybody who is coming forward with a development to task over what they are doing for creating the environment.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

I do not have a huge amount of time.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Sorry.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

No, it is fine. You mentioned Nine Elms Battersea, which is grim. Places like Lewisham Gateway are grim. One of the problems in these areas is that it is developer-led regeneration. What I am keen on is that this is very much led by you, led by the OPDC.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I agree.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

Going on to the point you mentioned of density and height, Policy SP2 on good growth and SP6 on places and destinations both deal with placemaking. What effect do you think those policies are going to have on the types of high-density developments that will be built? Is ‘high-density’ going to mean towers? I know that towers are not particularly great for people to live in. Are you going to try to achieve high density in a low and medium-rise way?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I will let David talk about specific heights. There will be some towers, but we do not want to cover the OPDC with towers. We very much see the higher buildings going in in certain locations where they will be most appropriate: around the station, on the edges of the site. However, as I said before, high-density does not have to be bad placemaking. Do you want to add to that?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  It is an interesting point and I very much agree with Tom. One of the things that interests me and excites me about the OPDC - and certainly will continue to do so as long as I am involved in it - is exactly your point: this needs to be seen as quite public-sector led. This is going to involve lots of partnerships with business, with developers and with the development community, but the opportunity to lead from the front with a lot of public investment and a lot of public land ownership means that we get to set the terms for, if you like, ‘clienting’ that responsibility to have excellence in design.

Also, on the density point, I understand very well all the controversies around densities, building heights and all the rest of it. That is an exciting challenge as well because, as we know, London is going to see more dense development going forward. That is very much what the new London Plan is all about. It is an inevitability.

There are some really very good examples of high-density new development in London and there are some examples that probably you and I might agree do not quite meet that mark. I am very clear and I know Liz is very clear and I promise you the Board is extremely clear on this point that we are not going to tolerate second or third best. This has to be setting a new benchmark. That is really the challenge and the goal here: setting a new benchmark for excellent design in high-density environments.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

I am pleased to hear that. I will have to finish up there because of time, but I will say that even with the London Legacy Development Corporation, though, which was supposedly public sector-led, there are still some absolutely grim buildings going up around there. I really hope that the OPDC is going to be different. Thank you.