Press Release issued March 1st about the CEJ WP report on the future of the OPDC
C4EJ Press Release
Release Date: Ist March 2018
Coalition for Economic Justice publishes new report urging
Mayor of London to supercharge the OPDC
A Working Group set up by the Coalition for Economic Justice (C4EJ) has produced its final report on the future of the OPDC (Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation). In September last year the CEJ Working Group submitted a response to the publication of the OPDC’s revised local plan. Its response was highly critical of the Corporation’s failure to address core finance issues, which it argued went to the heart of the Corporation’s ability to deliver on plans for development and regeneration in north London.
It calls on the Mayor of London to seize what the authors say is a very special opportunity to bring some of the most successful urban development policies – found in Singapore and Hong Kong - to London.
The key to the report’s principal recommendations is the effective capture and use of the uplift in land values resulting from the creation of Britain’s most significant new transport hub at Old Oak. Old Oak is where the High Speed 2 rail line and the new Elizabeth line (formerly known as Crossrail) will meet and where travellers from all across the UK will get their connections to and from Heathrow.
The report says that London’s elected representatives, most especially the Mayor, need to keep hugely valuable sites in public ownership and make the most of them. What is special about the OPDC is that it starts with an unprecedented endowment of publicly owned land (over 90 hectares); land, which can and should be used for the benefit of London and Londoners as a whole.
The report presents a powerful case for more active and intelligent management of development opportunities in the OPDC area, by a strengthened Mayoral development corporation - modelled on the MTR Corporation in Hong Kong and the Housing & Development Board and Jurong Town Corporation in Singapore. All three are public bodies that have an impressive record of getting things done in the public interest.
Cities require infrastructure and investment for the long term, often provided by the public sector and need to harness the value of existing public assets if best value is to be delivered for all Londoners.
Land values are highest in areas of urban concentration and economic activity; where uplifts in land value have less to do with private investment and much more to do with levels of population (growth), economic activity and public investment. Much more can be done to capture the uplift in land/location values after public investment, and the OPDC area presents a unique opportunity for London to benefit from this.
Land value uplift after investment in public transport facilities is well known, for example with the Jubilee line extension in London, and in the case of Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) model. The Working Group's members are convinced that TfL can and should be empowered to develop land around the new stations within the OPDC area, and to keep new office and commercial buildings in public hands in order to generate income for future investment as well as meeting operational and maintenance costs.
The Strategic Industrial Land (SIL) of Park Royal has great potential, but land ownership needs to be consolidated to allow for the development of new warehouse and industrial facilities fit for the 21st century. The OPDC should take charge of this investment and development programme, and lease the new facilities it builds in order to promote employment and generate income.
Housing to be built on land already in public ownership should be developed and sold or rented under a new model of ownership based on non-renewable leases of varying length or a split of ground rents and premiums, based on the Singapore model of leasehold ownership.
The OPDC should be strengthened to incorporate the necessary professional expertise to deliver this vision, and be given the powers and resources it needs, by the London Mayor, to execute a much more ambitious plan for the benefit of the whole of London.
Notes for editors:
a. The C4EJ Working Group (WG) was established by the Coalition for Economic Justice, The Coalition includes political groups, pressure groups and charities who came together in 2008 in response to the economic crisis of that year and who have continued to work together for the establishment of justice in economic affairs. The Coalition proposes the introduction of an annual Location or Land Value Tax (LVT) to reduce existing taxes on enterprise and labour in order to rebalance the economy and prevent future economic crises.
c. The Working Group comprise: Andrew Purves, author of No Debt, High Growth, Low Tax: Hong Kong’s Economic Miracle Explained, published by Shepheard Walwyn in 2015. Ed Randall is a retired academic who has written extensively on public policy and political ideas. John Lipetz is a campaigner for social justice and fair taxation and a member of the Labour Land Campaign. We can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and by phone at: 020 3397 3723, as well as by writing to: Chair of Coalition for Economic Justice, 11-13 Mandeville Place, Marylebone, LONDON, W1U3AJ