The Old Oak and Park Royal Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) has launched a consultation on a new local plan for the area. Michael Mulhern is planning director at the corporation.
Q. Why do you need a local plan separate from the local authorities in the area?
A. On 1 April, the corporation will take full planning powers for the 650 hectares across the area from the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Brent. We now want a single clear local plan guiding the whole area.
Q. Are you starting from a blank slate?
A. Over the past three years, we have been working with landowners, High Speed 2, central government and local councils. In 2013 we produced a vision for the area which took a very strategic look at what could be delivered. In 2015 we produced an opportunity area planning framework which took that visioning work and added more meat in terms of homes and jobs figures. They have now been embedded in the London Plan.
This local plan is taking the detail to the next level and looking at proposals at a site level. We are consulting on where the cluster of tall buildings should go. We want to have a north south connection and have proposed a new high street – we are asking people if that is what they want.
Q. How much consultation are you doing?
A. We have a very interactive website which is compatible with tablets and smartphones. Over the next few weeks we will have 15 drop in sessions, 11 themed workshops on topics including streets and the environment.
We have already done a lot of work with local people, helping them to come together in formal groups. Some were already active but we are helping to engage harder to reach communities. We are also building relationships with the businesses that already exist in Park Royal. If not planned properly the traffic movements and utility upgrades could cause them problems.
Q. How is consultation on planning changing in the 21st century?
A. We spend a lot of time talking to people through social media – we even have a hashtag - #opdclocalplan – through which a lot of debates take place. Being able to respond instantly through that medium can help nip misunderstandings in the bud straight away whereas before, if there was a delay responding to an email, they could take root.