Housing Infrastructure Fund

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

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Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

How has the Housing Infrastructure Fund process helped progress the OPDC plans?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

This has been hugely important. When I started this role, I was very concerned that we had very little subsidy - let us use the word ‘subsidy’ as a convenient way of saying public sector input into this - other than the fact that the Mayor was financing our running costs. The one bit of potential public sector subsidy we had was the Memorandum of Understanding that allowed us access to the Network Rail land at existing use value. We still need money to buy it at existing use value. It was extremely fortunate that the HIF came along. The team and indeed the GLA reacted very quickly to leap in and make a bid.  Yes, the HIF bid has been crucial to unlocking this and it has allowed us to develop the plan for phase 1A, to identify the infrastructure we need to unlock that and hopefully to get the acceptance of the bid, which we now need to nail. Once we have done that, that will allow us to unlock what I call phase 1B, the bigger part of the site, earlier. Yes, it is probably quite difficult to see where we would be without the HIF money.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

Thank you. You have been quite clear that you do not have the money in the bank yet.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

We do not have it yet, no.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

Last time we spoke about this was at the Budget [and Performance] Committee. You said that the conditions on the HIF were set after the Government announcement of funding and that the Government announcement followed six months of you, as you said, badgering the MHCLG to put an announcement out.

Were the conditions set only after the announcement? Is that part of any problem that is ‑‑

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Exactly how these were put together within the MHCLG and Homes England you would have to ask them. Quite a lot of them are standard conditions and so we could have foreseen - and did foresee - quite a lot of them, but then there are specific conditions related to our site.

I must admit, as I said earlier in my opening remarks, there are times when I wake up at night worrying about parts of this programme. When I met with the Budget and Performance Committee, that was probably one of my more depressed days, thinking, “My goodness, when are we going to get through this?” I feel a lot better today. We have had some very constructive engagements with Homes England. David [Lunts] has being doing his utmost to chivvy along the whole process. While I could not say with certainty that we will be able to nail everything by a certain date, I do feel we are on a rather more positive trajectory than we were when I last spoke to you.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

Just to check, you have to meet every single one of the conditions - and there are quite a few of them - to get the money?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Do we have to meet every single one?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  They have set the conditions out very clearly ‑‑

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

It is a yes/no question. Is it all of them or just the majority?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  It is a dialogue. That is the right thing to say.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Yes. These things are always subject to negotiation.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  There is always a question about how you meet some of the conditions because they are not all yes/no. Some of them have some room for discussion and negotiation.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

Are any of them out of your control? For example, are any of them related to investment decisions by the Government or Transport for London (TfL) or anything like that?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Some of them are not entirely within our control, but we have a lot of influence over all the conditions that the Government has set.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

Can you publish the conditions that you have negotiated? That would be in terms of our scrutiny and in terms of seeing if progress is happening. Are they able to be published now that they are agreed?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  No, because the MHCLG has been very clear with us that they do not wish them to be published and so, if they were to be published, we would need their agreement.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

We will need to go back to them on this because all we can tell is what we can surmise. We know that, for example, one of the conditions is that the GLA underwrites it. Another one is that you get your Local Plan through. We know those and we are guessing at those. However, in terms of other things that might cause a wrinkle or a problem, we are in the dark. We keep hearing that you are confident or that you feel differently on different days. That is not very helpful to us in terms of tracking how you are doing.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I appreciate it is not very helpful, but I feel my hands are slightly tied on this one. The people who are giving us the money have said, “These are commercially sensitive documents and we would prefer them not to be published”. That is where we stand.

Sian Berry AM: Meanwhile, the GLA is underwriting the £250 million in case any of these conditions, which we do not know about, might not come off.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  That is absolutely true because - and this is a matter that is in the public domain - one of the terms of the HIF, regardless of whether it is Old Oak or any of the other HIF bids, is that the agency that submits the bid is ultimately accountable for the money that is allocated. Therefore, the GLA is ultimately accountable for all the forward funding HIF bids that have been submitted, including Old Oak.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

That is different to underwriting it so that you can get on and spend, is it not?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Ultimately, the GLA takes responsibility and accountability for delivering according to the HIF milestones. Just like any other upper-tier authority that has submitted bids, if those bids are allocated, that upper-tier authority - in this case the GLA - is responsible to the Government for ensuring that that money is delivered in accordance with the contract conditions. That is a matter of public record.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

OK, but in terms of you getting on and planning things, you can do that now? You can start to plan to spend the HIF money or is this why you are waiting for a Mayoral decision? This is all or nothing in terms of you getting on with your work?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

The point that I made earlier was that I had had the discussion with the Mayor to say, “We will need to do certain things in advance of getting the HIF money in the bank. Will you support us during that period?” That is what is now going to be the subject of a mayoral direction, which we expect to see very shortly. You will see that. That will be in the public domain. That will happen within the next ‑‑

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

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

‑‑ couple of weeks, I hope.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

I would have thought that this is allowing you to spend money we might ‑‑

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

That is not £250 million. The Mayor is not offering me a cheque for £250 million to tide us over.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

It is allowing you to spend money that we may not get back. You would expect the conditions to be in that decision.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

In principle, in theory, you are right. It is money that we might not get back. The alternative is we down tools and do not do anything and then that puts us in a very weak position to cement the HIF bid. It is a balanced judgement. We have had an interesting and feisty discussion with the Mayor’s budget people about this and we have whittled down what we think we need to the absolute minimum, which we consider to be at the lowest possible risk. It will fund a number of things, which we think have to happen anyway in this area.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

OK. I want to ask about one of the specific bits of infrastructure and what you do with it: the street that is going to be built. That is part of the HIF bid, is it not?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

The road.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

A road? If we can call it a street, I would prefer that, actually.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Is it a road or a street? I do not know. There may be a subtlety in that. Anyway, it is a means of communication.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

It is a link across the railway line.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Yes, a key road.

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

We, as Greens, would hope that this road or this street would be used principally for public transport, walking and cycling. We would hope that these activities on the street would be brought forward as early as possible, potentially at the construction stage because construction workers need to walk, cycle and use buses to get to work. At the moment, there is not even a bus along Hythe Road, for example. The closest you can get is Scrubs Lane and there is only one bus on there.

Is there work that you are doing to bring forward, now that you have your infrastructure plans, public transport onto that infrastructure to prevent it being a car-dependent development from the start, including during construction?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I will say straight away that I absolutely agree with the principle of what you said and that is a principle that underpins all our development. The other bit of traffic on whatever this road is called is likely to be Cargiant vehicles doing test drives, but that may be an issue that we can talk about later. David, do you want to say something about our approach to transport?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Yes. The commitment in the draft Local Plan is absolutely to have as little reliance as possible on the car. It is going to be an incredibly well-connected place because we have Willesden Junction and we are going to have the new HS2 station. In time, we hope we might even get stations at Old Oak and Hythe Road. This is going to be a plan that has very low - 0.2 - carparking spaces and so really at the bottom end. It is going to be very clear that a lot of development ‑‑

Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

Sorry, I do not have much time and so I am going to interrupt you. I am trying to specifically ask about phase 1A and things you could start planning for now, public transport bus routes through that area for the builders and then to serve the earliest residents. Local Plans have a tendency to put in all the stuff that is car dependent and then add the buses later at the last stage. That does lead to car dependency. While you have so much construction work going on, it would be great if you would start looking at public transport infrastructure for phase 1A today.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

We both agree with you.

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

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

I note your plan to use land value uplift to fund infrastructure by selling land at a profit. What are the short, medium, and long-term risks around the proposals to resell land that is ready for development and how will you mitigate those?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

If we look specifically at phase 1A, there are a number of ways that we could implement. We can buy the land we are entitled to buy off Network Rail. We can acquire other land from other landowners.

We have not completely firmed up on the precise way we might do that because there might be other ways to cut the cake. There might be ways to do joint ventures with Network Rail, for example, that would then save us having to shell out capital upfront to buy land. Then we would simply have to have some sort of overage agreement in the future.

All this, of course, is going to be very dependent on how the whole housing land and other land markets go in London. You can almost take a wet finger in the air. You pick your valuers and ask them what they think is going to happen to land values. The views we have had from a lot of our advisers is that while there may be a number of blips over the immediate future, generally in the longer term they are confident that we are going to see rising land values in this area. That is what we would hope to benefit from. It is important that whatever sort of deals we do with anybody, we make sure we get our share of the value uplift. You and I have spoken about this many times before. I am a strong believer in making sure that we do get that.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

Yes. Will you have taken everything through a planning application? Will there be an outline permission and then will you send the land on to a developer to build out?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I do not know yet. We have not reached that stage. We have done some relatively soft market engagement. We have been talking to people who might be potential developers. They might be partners. They might be delivery partners. There are lots of different ways of cutting this. I assure you that the team and I and the Investment Committee - and we have some good canny property people on our Investment Committee - will make sure that we derive as much value as we feasibly can from the sites under our control.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

Can you do it in a way that allows the public sector to retain a stake or even keep it public, like TfL is doing with ‑‑

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Yes, exactly. That is one option. I am a great believer in the public sector, if they have any land, keeping a handle on it or on some of it or rather, if you sell a certain share, you do a joint venture, but you have skin in the game so that when there is substantial uplift in the future you get a proportion of it. Selling off everything on day one is not necessarily a good idea.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

I entirely concur with that, yes. David, do you have anything to add to that?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  If the public sector tries to go it alone, so to speak, and if everything goes well, then you get all the uplift and that is terrific. However, of course, if you get your sums wrong you are in trouble, either because the values are not there or because the cash flow is not there and the market will not buy sites at the right time at the right price. If you are using that to fund infrastructure, you cannot suddenly stop building your road. There are some challenges around that model.

Equally, if you expect the private sector to do everything, they are going to have to price in the risk and the cost of capital and all those things and you tend to lose control. I do wonder whether there is a sweet spot here where, in return for our money and our investment, it may be that we can partner with an agency or a series of organisations to share risk and reward.

However, I am very clear and I agree with you that if the public sector is going to step into this very challenging project at the beginning with at least £250 million of money, then we need to have a share of whatever the uplift is going forward. We will need that, too, because ultimately this is going to need more than £250 million of public money to unlock the entirety of the site.

My guess is that there is some sweet spot where we will probably be looking for partners to share risk and reward, but, as Liz says, we are not quite at the stage of knowing exactly when that moment will happen.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

Finally, will the fact that you are able to fund some of the infrastructure around the site give you a better negotiating position when agreeing levels of affordable housing with developers?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

The answer is yes because you will know that whenever there is a negotiation with a developer - I certainly know because I have seen it from the developer’s side - they will say, “Here is our viability and we have this amount of headroom. We can either fund your infrastructure or we can fund your affordable housing. Which would you like it to be? There is not enough money in the pot for everything”. Of course you can press the developers because you never believe the first story they tell you ‑‑

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

‑‑ but ultimately that is indeed true. There is never enough money in the pot for absolutely everything and so there is always going to be a trade-off. If we put £250 million into infrastructure, the developer is not having to pay that and that means they have more headroom on the affordable housing front.

By the way, I should add that we are an MDC. We want and we have to follow the Mayor’s policy on affordable housing.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

Thank you very much.

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

Liz, you mentioned earlier on the unfortunate uncertainty about HS2. I want to ask a question about the very future of HS2. As we all know, the Chair of HS2 is carrying out a project review and this is in the context of a comment from the frontrunner to be the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson [MP], and I quote:

“There are projects we should have on transport in the north of the country that ought to take precedence over HS2.”

Do you think that if HS2 were to be scrapped, it would still be viable in terms of developing the planned major development and regeneration that we have for the OPDC area?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

This is very much my personal view and I do not know what the Mayor’s position would be on this. If we did not have HS2, it would put a whole different complexion on what we do at Old Oak, especially in the next ten to 20 years. In my personal view, it would probably set back the regeneration of that area of London by about 20 years, I would guess. That is a very wet finger in the air.

There are a couple of other things to say on that and, again, this is the view of Liz Peace, not necessarily the view of the Mayor. There is an issue around a Crossrail station at Old Oak. At the moment, the station development where the HS2 station will be will also incorporate a Crossrail station. It will also incorporate four platforms for the Great Western Line to stop. Something the GLA might want to look at is whether you would still build a Crossrail station even if HS2 was not coming in. I do not know. I do not know the answer to that, but that is one way in which you could at least achieve an improved transport link.

Let us assume that did not happen. If you look at the north of the Old Oak site, we have another fantastic transport interchange that has not been developed up to its full potential and that is Willesden Junction. You might want to shift the whole focus of what you are trying to do to Willesden Junction, but again that would be a GLA/TfL decision.

Whether you would need an MDC to do either of those things becomes a matter for debate. It would certainly put our overall rationale for being into a large degree of doubt.

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

I posed this question to the Mayor at the last Mayor’s Question Time and he clearly stated in the response that he would be recommending to the new Prime Minister to continue with HS2. However, given the position that Boris Johnson [MP] has taken on that and the whole host of reviews being undertaken, there are deep concerns about HS2. Hopefully, we will know by the end of the year [2019]. Liz Truss MP also said that a HS2 decision will be due at the end of this calendar year [2019].

Given that there are serious concerns about HS2 being scrapped, should you and the Mayor and the GLA be looking at plan B to see whether the current planned major delivery of 25,000 homes and 65,000 jobs is going to be viable? Is this something you are already thinking about and talking about? Should you be waiting for another year when you know that the whole thing is at major risk?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

We are certainly thinking about it. It is never far from our thoughts. I absolutely believe that HS2 is a project that needs to go ahead, but I am not the Prime Minister. It is perhaps worth remembering, of course, that one of the candidates for the prime ministerial position was indeed the Mayor of London at the time at which it was agreed to set up OPDC to benefit from the HS2 station. Look, I do not know where this is going and so I cannot tell you.

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

I appreciate that. The point is ‑‑

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I have outlined to you what we would need to look at if indeed HS2 does not go ahead. We can start planning for those eventualities now, but it is better to see what we can do to at least capitalise on the money that we have been offered and work out how we can get started on the planning for that. I have already said that we are going to minimise our expenditure and try to look at those things we think will not be wasted in the long term; for example, cracking ahead with energy supply. There is always going to be a need for some additional energy supply in this area and so that is not going to be money wasted. Even if sites are acquired - and we do not have a specific plan on that - we can do something with those sites whatever happens. However, we would have to reconsider the whole position of the OPDC.

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

The big question for all of us is that, if HS2 goes with Crossrail likely to go as well, what happens then? Is the current scale of delivery and regeneration viable? Is it going to be viable at all? I will leave it with that comment.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

My personal view - and I have not discussed this with the Mayor but I would be surprised if he or his advisers did not agree with me - would be that the scale of the ambitious plans we have are not viable without HS2 and Crossrail, certainly not for another couple of decades.

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

Thank you very much. Thank you, Chair.

Léonie Cooper AM: I wanted to ask you about green infrastructure. As Assembly Members we can do individual reports and I did one on biodiversity in new housing developments. It is not just a housing development at the OPDC but it is a major development. The concept of threading green infrastructure through it and maintaining biodiversity is one that is now becoming enshrined in the forthcoming new London Plan.

I wondered if you could set out what you consider to be the main challenges in maintaining biodiversity and getting that green infrastructure in.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  First of all, there is a very clear commitment in the draft Local Plan to at least 30% green space within the development overall. That is something we are taking very seriously. There is a strong commitment in the draft Local Plan to a green infrastructure, including things like sustainable urban drainage (SUDS).  We are looking very actively at how we can incorporate elements of biodiversity and amenity into the service infrastructure of the site.

One of the most enticing and exciting things about Old Oak is the fact that it has this green waterway running through the middle of it with the canal, which is only partly used at the moment. For those of you who have been down there, it is not the most exciting prospect to walk down the towpath.

That is one of the reasons why, amidst all this work that is going on around HIF and strategic infrastructure and planning, some of the most exciting work we are doing is around some of the early activation projects. We are looking at things like improving access to the Scrubs itself because of course we have this terrific green space park on our southern boundary. We are looking at early activation projects to open up more of the canal space and celebrate some of the biodiversity there and get a lot more people using the waterways as well.

Léonie Cooper AM: In practical terms, what do you think you can do to maximise the benefit of the Grand Union Canal and of the Metropolitan Open Land at Wormwood Scrubs?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Partly, it is about making sure that all our plans celebrate that space and incorporate it as best they can. Secondly, it is about making as many early improvements as we can to the maintenance and access to those spaces. It is also about doing quite a lot of promotion. We are investing with the local community organisations in terms of events that can get people canoeing on the canal and get people doing voluntary clean-ups of the canal towpath and doing events in the Scrubs itself. It is a range of things, partly strategic, partly operational and partly promotional.

Léonie Cooper AM: As I said, it is not just housing, but you have the industrial areas and you have the SIL  how will you use the new Urban Greening Factor and the promotion of net biodiversity gain in those areas as well? You have talked about maintaining 30% green overall and using SUDS as part of that process and the open space in the canal, but in the strategic industrial areas it would be nice to think that it is going to be there as well.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Yes. That is a good point. We are currently looking to make a £10 million submission to the Liveable Neighbourhoods Fund with TfL specifically to address some of those challenges in Park Royal in the industrial areas you are talking about. For instance, at the moment there is a big reliance on people driving to work. The state of the public realm is not very good. We want to see a lot more development of small green spaces in Park Royal. We want to see more emphasis on cycling and public transport. We want to see a comprehensive programme of traffic reduction within Park Royal, not to undermine the commercial viability of those places but to get people out and celebrating some of the public space that badly needs improvement. Assuming we are successful in that Liveable Neighbourhoods Fund project, I would hope that this time next year [2020] if we come back we will be able to talk you through some of the more detailed plans.

Léonie Cooper AM: Do you think you might be talking to some of the developers about green walls being incorporated into the strategic industrial developments and perhaps green or even brown roofs? I am pleased to hear that there will be good cycling connections because that is important. Not everybody should be coming by car.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Definitely, brown roofs, green roofs, green walls, absolutely.

Léonie Cooper AM: We will not be seeing you allowing the developers to max out on biodiversity offset contributions somewhere else?

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  Hopefully not, no.

Léonie Cooper AM: Hopefully not. That is very good. You were talking about the access for local people. Do you think there will be the possibility of improving some of the bridges? You have already pointed out that the towpaths are pretty unwelcoming at the moment, but we could have nicer bridges. It is a shame in many parts of London that we have these bridges and you cannot see, quite often, that you are travelling over little rivers or canals. Is that something you are thinking of improving? I can see nodding.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I am smiling because I am always staggered by how many bridges and things we are going to have to be creating. One of the earliest ones that we would like to get cracking on is a bridge over the Grand Union Canal to link with what we hope will be the Oaklands North development into the north of the site. This will have to be a well-designed bridge. The Canals and Rivers Trust has made it clear and we agree with them. This is not just about sticking a utilitarian bridge over the canal. It will be a well-designed bridge and, yes, we will be taking account of everything you say.

I also agree with you about what you do to improve the canal because the canal there is a terrific asset. It is twice the width of the Grand Union Canal I knew from being brought up in Birmingham. That is a very narrow canal. We have a fabulous wide one and the towpaths are terrific, but they do not feel very safe at the moment.

Léonie Cooper AM: I look forward to that element of the infrastructure being improved as well.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Labour

Good morning. Just speaking on infrastructure, you touched on it when you answered my colleague Assembly Member Shah in terms of HS2. Your Strategic Plan 2016-19 says that delays to Crossrail construction will affect the financial viability of the masterplan. Can you elaborate on whether that has had an effect on the masterplan now? We do know that Crossrail is delayed.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Has the delay in Crossrail had an impact on the masterplan?

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Labour

Yes, on your masterplan and viability.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  No, because the current programme for the HS2 station opening is 2026. I would imagine that the Elizabeth line will definitely be running by 2026.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Labour

I am talking about Crossrail. Your Strategic Plan states:

“If HS2 or Crossrail construction programmes are delayed or halted, this would materially impact on the transfer of land and financial deliverability of the masterplan.”

I want to know what mitigation you are putting in place for that.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

The point there is that the Crossrail station is dependent on HS2 and so the key thing there is HS2. Were HS2 to be delayed, we would have to rerun quite a few of our numbers because HS2 and how quickly it gets in there is going to impact on the potential land value and on how soon the work sites are freed up for development. Yes, if HS2 is delayed, we would have to rerun some of those assumptions.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Labour

You also touched on the fact that Willesden Junction could be an Overground station that could be developed. Another station that was not mentioned is Hythe Road. At our Budget and Performance Committee meeting we heard that the funding for the Overground station at Hythe Road is not on the agenda. What implications would this have for you?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

There are two Overground stations and I may have been guilty of perhaps presenting this in slightly the wrong way. I tend to call a spade a spade and it was pointed out to me that the situation is slightly more subtle on that with regard to the funding.

The position is that neither station currently is budgeted for in the TfL’s plans. According to TfL modelling, there is no transport need for a Hythe Road station. From our perspective, we would like a station at Hythe Road because we think it would create a better regeneration with better access to public transport. We would have to make a decision as we move into our phase 1B about whether we would expect a potential developer to fund Hythe Road station or whether there are other sources of funding for Hythe Road station. That is why it is currently an aspiration, it would be fair to say. It is not a funded programme.

On the Old Oak station, which is down to the west, TfL’s modelling shows that there is a transport justification for that station but there is nothing in the budget for it. Again, that would be an aspiration at some point in the future. One would always like lots of stations but we cannot have everything.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Labour

I totally agree and it is about priorities and demand and budget. On Hythe Road, you did state that TfL said that they have done the modelling and do not believe there is any demand. Have they provided you with that modelling? They had not publicly stated that they are not proceeding because of lack of demand. Do you have that information?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

I hope I have not put my foot in it yet again. I remember sitting in a meeting some time ago with their modellers and their transport planners. They said they had looked at it and there was no transport case for it. I thought that was in the public domain. I may be wrong.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  It is now.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

It is now, yes.

David Lunts (Interim Chief Executive Officer, OPDC):  It is worth emphasising as well that regardless of Old Oak station or Hythe Road station - neither of which are funded at the moment and let us be clear about that - assuming that we get a HS2/Crossrail station and we have Willesden Junction, this is going to be an incredibly well-connected place, disregarding those two stations that currently do not have a funding route. It is probably going to be the case that nobody in our new Old Oak regeneration area is going to be more than, say, a ten‑minute walk away from two amazingly well-connected stations. This does not critically undermine our ambitions in terms of overall development or density.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Labour

Thank you. I will leave it there, Chair.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Thank you very much. OK, Assembly Member Shah, do you have a question?

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

Yes, Chair. I would like to go back to Liz and her comment about David’s [Lunts] appointment on a four-days-a-week basis. How long will this arrangement last?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Sorry, I was momentarily distracted. For the foreseeable future. I have agreed with David that this is almost certainly going to last for the rest of this financial year [2019/20]. He is nodding. I hope that is not news to him. I am thinking probably until the end of this financial year [2019/20].

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

Will you be ultimately looking to have a full-time Chief Executive?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Yes.

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

Would there be any intention to make David’s appointment on a full-time basis rather than the current four days within this period that you have just stated?

[Note: The meeting was adjourned from 11.55am to 12.02pm]

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

It was a question about the Chief Executive.

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

The moment is that we do not have an absolutely fixed position on about how long David [Lunts] will stay and I would rather keep it that way. David has to discuss with the authorities within the GLA.

One thing I would like to say is even though he is doing only four days a week, David’s interpretation of four days a week is probably equivalent to a lot of other people’s six. I am absolutely satisfied that we are getting an excellent service from David. Indeed, in the relatively short space of time he has been with us, he has enabled us to make considerable progress on the Local Plan EiP, on how we are taking forward the HIF bid and how we are taking forward the land assembly.

Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

I absolutely agree and I have no issues about either the commitment or the capacity of David, who gives absolutely everything to the job he does. The point is that for a major position at this level, you certainly want a full-time permanent position, which is what you do not have. That is what I am trying to draw out. What is your plan? Are you going to have ‑‑

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Certainly, we will not carry on indefinitely with an interim Chief Executive. Once we have done a number of the things we are working through at the moment, we will be in a much better position to go out and recruit a full-time Chief Executive, particularly since we will then be moving into a delivery phase rather than planning and dealing with a lot of these governmental-type challenges. Yes, next year [2020] we will at some point to be specifically determined be recruiting a full-time Chief Executive.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

I wonder if you could update us on the progress you are making towards the new Cultural Quarter in Old Oak. I believe this is one of the proposals that you have. Is that not right?

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

Cultural is certainly one of the potential uses eventually when we get to the stage of development, but, as I was saying earlier when I was talking about all the different employment opportunities, I am not aware of a specific plan. There was a conversation even before I arrived as Chair with one of the museums - I cannot remember which one - to take space there. That went away because the museum in question - and I cannot remember which one it was, maybe the Victoria and Albert Museum or the Natural History Museum - made other plans. I am very open-minded about the types of activity that we would have at Old Oak and I do not rule out museums, culture or anything, really.

Photo of Tom Copley Tom Copley Labour

In your draft Local Plan, it says:

“The OPDC will work with the GLA, neighbouring local authorities and developers to ensure that cultural provision in the area supports the creation of a new Cultural Quarter in Old Oak that can complement nearby cultural clusters ...”

Liz Peace CBE (Chair, OPDC):

That is an aspiration in the same way that I would like to see a spinoff from Imperial [College London] on the eastern side of the site. There are a number of things in Park Royal particularly where we are keen to build on the heritage. There are some very interesting older businesses there. I mentioned earlier the fabulous stained-glass business and the owner of that would like to create a whole exhibition and enlarged studio. There is potential for bringing in perhaps a museum. I have had interesting discussions over the last couple of years with the Museum of London. Why not have a Museum of London West? They have one in the east as well as the central site. There is a lot of heritage to build on from the railways in the area. A lot of the architecture is railway inspired and railway dominated. There is plenty of potential and so, yes, that remains one of our aspirations but we do not have a specific plan at the moment.