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Who gets to grab

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HS2 is “nothing about railways, and it’s nothing about trains”, HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins told the BBC Newsnight’s Laura Kuenssberg at the London terminus of HS1, St Pancras International (broadcast 3 July 2014). Surely, what HS2 is about, is who gets the equipment and construction contracts, and who gets control of the London real estate. The area around Old Oak Common — one of two London stations on the proposed HS2 high speed rail line between the capital and three provincial cities — is, according to architect Terry Farrell, ‘the next Stratford and Canary Wharf combined‘.

Old Oak railway lands and proposed Boris MDC boundary, 2014

Old Oak railway lands and proposed Boris MDC boundary, 2014

Mr Farrell’s company received more than £100,000 from the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham (LBHF) for masterplanning the council’s proposed Old Oak redevelopment, but as with Stratford in the 2012 Olympics, there seems to have been minimal public involvement in the planning process, a fact which appears to be lost on the council.

[London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham website]

No to ‘anti-democratic’ Old Oak land-grab, says council

Wednesday July 2, 2014

A proposal to take local planning powers away on one of the capital’s biggest housing projects are ‘an anti-democratic land grab’ which gives the potential for [Mayor Boris Johnson] to allow the building of properties for overseas speculators rather than homes Londoners can afford, according to Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council (2 July 2014).

The Mayor of London launched a consultation on plans to create a Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) around Old Oak Common and Park Royal which is the area where the new High Speed 2 (HS2) hub station is expected to be built.

The MDC would assume planning powers within its borders, which span large parts of the north of H&F and parts of Brent and Ealing. H&F’s new administration objects to this and has raised concerns that this is nothing more than a land-grab designed to make life easier for the developers – at the cost of local people.

Cllr Stephen Cowan, leader of H&F Council, said: “This council objects to an MDC at Old Oak and Park Royal. We are concerned about the Mayor of London’s record on delivering truly affordable homes for Londoners and do not believe he should be entrusted with sole responsibility on a scheme of this importance.

“We are committed to changing housing policies so that we build homes for residents rather than investment properties for overseas speculators and look forward to working with Ealing and Brent councils to do that. There is no good business case for the Mayor to step in.

“In fact, the move in government over the years has been to devolve more powers to local communities not take them away. The Mayor’s proposed organisation is a throwback to decades long gone, it would be un-democratic and unnecessarily takes away powers from local residents and local businesses and essentially hands them over to developers and un-elected bureaucrats.”

The public consultation, which runs until September 24, 2014, is asking Londoners for their views on issues such as the proposed boundary, its potential planning powers and whether an MDC is the most effective way to deliver the regeneration.

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Written by beleben

July 10, 2014 at 11:03 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, London

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