The UK’s biggest regeneration project at Old Oak Common has been criticised as “a mess” in a review which calls on the government to reduce the financial burden it could place on Londoners.
The study into the £10bn west London scheme, set up by Sadiq Khan, found that a deal over public land was “hastily entered into” and the location of a Crossrail depot at the heart of the development had depressed land values.
The mayor criticised his predecessor Boris Johnson for “rushing headlong” into an agreement to transfer land on less favourable terms than other regeneration projects around the country.
He gave his full backing for the Old Oak scheme but called on ministers to ensure Londoners reaped the maximum benefits of the opportunity.
Old Oak Common is 100 acres of railway lines, sidings and depots south of the Grand Union Canal as well as industrial estates and the Cargiant second-hand car dealer to the canal’s north.
More than 25,000 homes and 55,000 jobs are due to be created there over the next 15 years, supported by 250,000 passengers a year using a transport super-hub with Crossrail, HS2, Tube and Overground stations.
Earlier this year government adviser Sir Terry Farrell warned the scheme was in danger of turning into London’s “worst cock-up in 50 years” because of the rush to finish Crossrail.
The major review suggested more government funding had gone into other areas along the HS2 line, including a new Birmingham metro station.
It also criticised the decision to position the Crossrail depot at the centre of the development, without investing in “decking” to cover it, so that valuable land had been lost, the price for adjacent sites had fallen and the prospect of creating an attractive site compromised.
Khan told the Standard: “Old Oak and Park Royal is one of the most important regeneration projects in London but it has been left in a mess by my predecessor. We need to make sure the fundamentals are in place now so we get the best deal for Londoners.
“It is clear from this review that Boris Johnson was rushing headlong into agreeing a land deal with government that was not in the city’s best interests, potentially reducing the amount of affordable housing that can be obtained from the site.
“I will continue to lobby government to ensure this scheme meets the needs of the city and that we squeeze every drop of potential out of this.”
The mayor plans to tell ministers he will only agree to a land deal that is in the best interests of London. He wants the government to provide additional financial support and devolve further fiscal powers to meet the costs.