Friday 29 March 2019

Is more accountability to Brent residents and councillors needed from our OPDC representative?

Considering the enormous scale of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development we herelittle in Brent about progress from our representative on the board Cllr Muhammed Butt.  After Cargiant threw a spanner in the works over its site LINK the London Mayor announced with a fanfare that the Corporation had been given a £250m award by the government:
Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), has today welcomed the government’s decision to award £250m to kick-start development on the West London site.
The investment, from the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, will be used to assemble land, design and build vital roads and utilities infrastructure. This will allow development of homes and businesses to begin at Old Oak North, close to the new transport ‘Superhub’ where the HS2 and the Elizabeth Line will meet.
Old Oak North is the first of six new neighbourhoods planned for the 650-hectare site. When complete, it is predicted that the entire redevelopment of Old Oak and Park Royal will deliver 25,500 new homes and 65,000 new jobs.
Old Oak and Park Royal is one of London’s largest Opportunity Areas with a new High Speed 2 (HS2) and Elizabeth line (formerly Crossrail) station due to be constructed at Old Oak by 2026. Redevelopment of the area has the potential to deliver 24,000 new homes and 55,000 jobs in Old Oak, as well as 1,500 new homes and 10,000 jobs on the adjoining Park Royal industrial estate.
Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) is the body tasked by the Mayor with driving forward future development plans for the area. OPDC has full planning powers within the 650-hectare site, which includes land in the boroughs of Hammer smith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
Old Oak and Park Royal is one of the capital’s most important regeneration projects with the capacity to deliver tens of thousands of new, genuinely affordable homes and jobs.
Therefore, I’m pleased that government have shown its support for our vision through this funding grant. This money will let us enter a new stage in the development of Old Oak, delivering the essential infrastructure to make the Old Oak dream a reality.
 Anyone wanting further information on the activities of the Board discover that the Minutes of the meetings are published a long time after the meetings. The last meeting for which Minutes have been published was November 28th at which Muhammed Butt was replaced by Cllr Shama Tatler with just observer status.

The leaders of the three London Boroughs involved, Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham are all on the broad for which they receive an allowance of £15,000. LINK  Cllr Butt is also on the Appointments and Remuneration Committee along with Brent's Head of Planning Amar Dave.

It is difficult to find how Cllr Butt reports back to Brent councillors on the OPDC and how its decisions are scrutinised. There were 5 Board meetings in 2018 and 1 Appointments and Remuneration Committee meeting. This is a pretty good rate per meeting and I am sure Muhammed Butt would argue that he does far more work on the OPDC than just attend meetings - it would be good have some detail.

The Brent Council website shows just how many other outside committees he is on:

A life spent in committee rooms looks rather dreary but Cllr Butt's role does bring him some pleasure:

There are some consultation meetings on OPDC plans coming up soon - details HERE

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