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28.06.16

Old Oak and Park Royal gearing up for new ‘super-hub’ station

Source: RTM Jun/Jul 16

West London is set to have the largest new station ‘super-hub’ built in the UK for over a century by 2026. Victoria Hills, chief executive officer of Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), runs through the early developments of the project.

Old Oak and Park Royal, a largely industrial and not widely known part of Zone 2-3 in West London, is about to hit the big time, and with it comes the most significant opportunity for business growth since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

One of the many amazing bits of news that I say regularly to the impressive array of companies already in the area, and the locals who want transport solutions, is that they don’t need to lobby government for investment in a national infrastructure project. It is already on its way. They have already decided to invest around £1bn into delivering a new station at Old Oak, and when the HS2 Bill receives Royal Assent in December 2016, the rail industry and Londoners will have the most almighty reason to get excited about the growth opportunities for London and the UK.  

New station ‘super-hub’ 

As Old Oak and Park Royal is where London will welcome HS2, it is the first place HS2 will stop in London, and the only place where HS2 and our other great national infrastructure rail success, Crossrail, will connect. East London had the Olympics. West London will have the largest new station ‘super-hub’ to be built in the UK for over a century. The station is expected to have 250,000 passengers a day, with 202 trains going through the area at peak times courtesy of the 10 rail lines serving the site. 

The boundary of the OPDC covers 650 hectares, with a core development site of 140 hectares, with room for 25,500 new homes and 65,000 new jobs. It is these significant figures that made the mayor dust off his very special powers to establish Mayoral Development Corporations (MDCs) to launch the second one, the OPDC on 1 April 2015.  

With three new and two improved stations, far from being complacent, we’ve worked quickly and efficiently to establish a fully functioning entity,  to ensure London stands ready to realise and capture the huge growth potential from the significant government investment in HS2 and Crossrail.  

But growth will not come without much preparation, planning co-ordination, collaboration, infrastructure funding and a clear delivery strategy. I am looking forward to carrying on the work to capitalise on the UK’s largest regeneration and development project to help all Londoners, and deliver on the mayor’s vision for London. We have 10 years to plan and prepare in advance of the station opening in 2026, but that time will go quickly and there is much to prepare! As a planning authority, we are ambitious for the super-hub station that will be built at the heart of Old Oak and Park Royal, to reflect the critical opportunity the station offers to regenerate the area. I know I am probably speaking to the converted, but transport is the key to unlocking the huge growth potential, and we want the station to set a benchmark for quality and world-class design. 

GrandUnionPark edit

Clear planning framework 

Over the course of the first year, a main priority – in addition to establishing everything that one might expect goes with setting up a new Development Corporation that had no predecessor – has been to establish a clear planning framework.  

As the statutory planning authority with full plan making powers, it has not only been essential to move quickly to set out a clear masterplan, but also to use it as a guide for the pre-application discussions with developers that we’re already having. We need it to be in the best possible position to negotiate and secure proportionate contributions to the significant infrastructure requirements of the area and to ensure we can deliver a high level of affordable housing.  

With the Opportunity Area Planning Framework adopted seven months after our establishment, and the first draft Local Plan consultation closed at the end of March 2016, we couldn’t be off to a better start, providing certainty to developers and investors alike that we are getting ready and gearing up for the next 30+ years. 

De-risking the land and being clear about what the Corporation’s role should be in delivering the jobs, homes and infrastructure has also been a significant focus: 

“Old Oak Common has the potential to be one of the most significant regeneration sites in the country over the next decade. The government has therefore agreed to transfer government and Network Rail land into the Development Corporation’s ownership.”

- Chancellor’s Budget, 16 March 2016 

Now that over 70% of the land in the core development site has been agreed in principle to be transferred to OPDC from government ownership, you can understand why we moved quickly to progress our ability to have control over its destiny.  

Putting the local community at the heart of the scheme 

Our funding and financing strategy, whilst still in development, will be key to unlocking the potential of this vast site. By utilising the extensive experience across the GLA group, we’re confident that we’ll be able to maximise the opportunity for fiscal devolution by demonstrating the mayor is best placed to co-ordinate the delivery of significant regeneration sites such as Old Oak and Park Royal. In summary, the main three priorities to date have been to establish a sound planning framework, to de-risk the land, and to develop a bulletproof funding and financing strategy.  

But it doesn’t stop there.  At the heart of any major regeneration scheme must be the local community, the businesses and residents, and with the expertise shared from our sister MDC, the London Legacy Development Corporation, we’ve hit the ground running with engagement officers and a Park Royal business manager. 

We’ve also been working closely with our three neighbouring boroughs (Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham) who all have their Borough leaders on the Board, alongside the appointment of a local resident and business representative to reinforce our commitment to working with the community. 

We have set out our early strategies for socio-economic regeneration, communications and engagement, and are working hard to influence key decisions that will impact on the future success of the area, such as the design of the HS2 station. We are now just over a year into a 30+ year project, excellent progress has been made but there is much work to do over the next three years and beyond. 

I am excited about the start we’ve made in preparing our own commercial masterplan and, following the steps of the Olympic Delivery Authority, we’d like to move to an outline planning consent by around 2019. This will enable the OPDC to ‘divide  up’ the enormous site into investable propositions, to secure the early delivery of affordable housing, and to ensure that the Old Oak and Park Royal development area will be one that not only London, but that the UK can be proud of.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com 

 

Comments

R Thorp   04/08/2016 at 11:48

North Acton towers disaster area is already blighted by too many ghetto towers, some of the worst road traffic, noise & air pollution in Europe. 30 & 40+ storey towers looming over 2 storey terrace houses. Zero public parking spaces. Schools and Tube already over capacity. The list goes on & on. It is the last place to add more brutalist mega ghetto towers. Only stupidity and/or corruption would allow this.

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