In our previous post we explained our strong criticisms of the system called Opportunity Areas, used in London to drive through most of the capital’s major developer projects. We had submitted a lot of evidence about this to the London Assembly’s Planning and Regeneration Committee which met in February, repeating our call for the programme to be halted until there is a proper scrutiny.
Now (mid March 2022) the Committee has written a LETTER picking up on a few of our less contentious points but throwing the demand for a detailed evaluation of the projects back to the Mayor and his planning team. Recommendation 5 says:
The Mayor should explore options for carrying out a full evaluation of Opportunity Areas, which assesses outcomes within Opportunity Areas against original objectives and compared with equivalent sites in London which have not received Opportunity Area designation. This should include exploring the impact on local residents and businesses and the potential for gentrification and regeneration in Opportunity Areas.Committee letter
We should welcome this as better than nothing. It’s peculiar, though, because the original objectives may often not be the only or best or most compelling yardsticks, because most Opportunity Areas simply don’t have equivalent London areas not designated and because the ‘potential for’ gentrification and regeneration is less important than whether these processes have or have not taken place, and why. We shall expect open consultation on a scoping study so that a more robust terms of reference can be established.