Government Chaos Might Significantly Delay Tesco/Homebase Plan

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Question marks are being raised about the future of the massive Tesco/Homebase development in Osterley due to the current government chaos in Westminster.

The final decision on two applications relating to the scheme following the public inquiry was due to be made by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State with responsibility for housing, but he was sacked this week by Boris Johnson just prior to his own resignation.

He has been replaced as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities by Greg Clark but it is thought likely that another cabinet reshuffle will take place in the next eight weeks when a new leader of the Conservative Party is chosen.

The public inquiry was due to finish earlier this year but sessions considering heritage issues were postponed until September due to an expert witness not being available. Provisionally, they were due to held on 26-28 September with closing statements presented on Friday, 30 September.

A local council who preferred not to be named said, “There is a possibility that the constant changes in the Cabinet may significantly delay the final decision on the Tesco/Homebase planning applications. Some people who are made Minister will be quite happy to defer to their civil servants, but he or she may want to put their mark on the department by taking an active role in the decision. This will mean a detailed review of all the arguments advanced in the course of the inquiry. Although, the scheme is huge, it won’t be the only thing in the Secretary of State’s inbox and it is far from inconceivable that there won’t be a final decision until much later in 2023. A lot can change in that time including interest rate rises, which may dent the developer’s enthusiasm for the project or nudge them into seeking to revise the terms of its agreement with the council.”

Barbara Stryjak of OWGRA (Osterley & Wyke Green Residents' Association) said it was difficult to make any comment on the current situation adding, “We were guessing that the Planning Inspector would produce the report by the end of the year (the public inquiry resumes 26-30 September) and that the Secretary of State would make a decision maybe in spring 2023, but these decisions sometimes take much longer in any case, and with all the changes in government presumably the timings become even more fluid and uncertain. “

If whoever is Secretary of Stage at the conclusion of the inquiry decides in their favour the applications would see 16 tower blocks built with the tallest 17 storeys high. These would include over 2,000 flats and are expected to increase the population of the area by over 6,000.

There were over 800 objections received to the proposals and over 4,000 people signed a petition asking the Mayor to block the application which he declined to do.

We have asked for a comment from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

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July 8, 2022

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