Old Oak Common development “the biggest con-trick in the book” says former transport minister
The Old Oak Common development is a con-trick that will fail to deliver on homes and jobs and will end up costing the taxpayer over £1bn says ex Tory transport minister Steven Norris. His comments were made at Landor’s 16th Rail Stations & Property Summit conference .
Norris, who twice stood unsuccessfully as a mayoral candidate and is a former TfL Board member, said the project was simply not going to happen.
The Old Oak Common (OOC) and associated Park Royal redevelopment has been hailed as the UK’s largest regeneration project, on par with Docklands in east London. Situated on the Great Western mainline in west London it will be the only location where HS2 and Crossrail converge. A massive commercial and residential development is planned over the station and associated rail yard area; several other lines will also serve the new mega-hub.
Promoters say the above site station regeneration will create 24,000 homes and 55,000 jobs.
Norris now chairs the National Infrastructure Planning Association and holds widespread business interests including chairmanship of BNP Paribas Real Estate UK; he has a special interest in infrastructure issues.
“Old Oak Common won’t happen due to the way we approach infrastructure funding in this country,” he said. “There is no budget in Crossrail, or HS2, or anywhere else to over-deck the depot and the stabling yard area. No one has made any decision about that. So they will stay as they are – an open site.
“But HS2 and Crossrail won’t wait. They don’t want any delays to the rail openings. There was no provision in the original Crossrail bill for a station at Old Oak Common, but it was the obvious place to locate a new depot.
“The over-decking would cost around £1.2bn but the land value would released would be about £2.6bn giving a £1.4bn net benefit to the taxpayer. Failure to fully over-deck the depot and stabling areas means that all the talk from No 10 downwards about 55,000 jobs and 24,000 homes is utter nonsense.”
A scaled down project would not be feasible.
Bombardier is building the depot at Old Oak Common for the new Crossrail trains and Vinci is the contractor. Norris said the new mayor – who will be elected in May – should renegotiate the contract with both companies on a specific tender basis. The area had to be piled and decked over.
“Old Oak Common is the biggest con-trick in the book as it currently stands; everyone is passing the parcel in some grotesque game of musical chairs. When the music stops and the parcel drops the taxpayer will get landed with over £1bn and London loses out on 17,000 of 24,000 homes and all but 8,000 of the 55,000 jobs.”
An exclusive report from Landor’s 16th Rail Stations & Property Summit, London, 18 February, 2016