White City has changed beyond recognition in the last 20 years. Since Westfield London emerged, Imperial College began the building of their White City campus, and Stanhope and Mitsui Fudoshan began the redevelopment of the BBC sites, the once challenged location has become one of London’s hottest destinations.
It is a global hotspot for life sciences and tech, and now home to a large number of start ups with rapid growth prospects. The leisure offer, combined with the retail, has made it one of London’s most visited locations.
The session, “Destination White City”, at the Capital West London Growth Summit, was discussing what was succeeding, and what was planned, to help continue the development of a highly successful place.
“You’d have to try to mess it up”, said Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council of White City. He meant that with Heathrow on one side, the City of London on the other, and Old Oak emerging just to the north, there is no better connected location.
Making White City a global hotspot in STEM and digital media. But what he really wants is for White City to be remarkable.
“We need to build the energy in the place so that feels like it’s a place of lifelong learning. We need future generations to think, as we look back at the Victorians and their achievements, boy, those guys were imaginative! The question is, how do you make this astonishing? White City is the best place to answer that.”
Jonathan Trout, of Stanhope, said they were trying to use the “fantastic legacy of the BBC to deliver an amazing destination. We have also used meanwhile projects to put White City back on the map. During this there has been a lot of collaboratioin between stakeholders. We had regular co-ordinated meetings of the key landowners – the White City Forum.”
Virginia Blackman, of Avison Young, said: The success at White City stems from that it is ‘proper’ mixed use – a genuine mix of uses in substantial amounts, not just homes with a few shops and a cafe. Also Westfield London is open to its surroundings, unlike many shopping centres, this is different.”
Stuart Robinson, Advisor to TfL, said that TfL have come to believe that the arrival experience really matters, as at Kings Cross for example. He said: “We are hoping there is going to be good news at White City. We are doing feasibility work on the tube station, and are looking to ensure the arrival experience is in keeping with the world class university, shopping centre, and mixed use destination White City now has”.
“We want to work with the borough and other stakeholders to upgrade Wood lane, to make it the heart of the area. This is very much at the early stages, working with planners and stakeholders to make sure that first the public realm is right. And we are also working on a smaller scale on the railway arches, the first tenants will be going in to them sometime in 2019.”
Katie Wyle, of Westfield, said that obviously retail is their priority, “but we are very much focussed on mixed use. There is much more leisure now, and we are bringing in office use, and working on the public space. Now have a new future for the DIMCO building, opening as a 3000 seater event space very soon. We are very aligned in our feeling for what White City is with other landowners.”