FoL says act now for Crossrail opportunity

Crossrail development opportunities exist beyond central London, provided communities are ready to act on the project’s regeneration potential, says a new report.

“Crossrail as Catalyst”, by the capital’s housing, economic development and regeneration network, Future of London, makes two sets of recommendations. First, it offers a 20-point ‘act now’ checklist for boroughs and cross-sector partners who want to boost regeneration activity in the four years before Crossrail opens.

Second, it provides eight recommendations to help future infrastructure projects deliver even greater London-wide regeneration benefits.

The 20 recommendations are divided into six areas based on surface connections, partnerships, development, design, planning, and community and employment.

Those findings were driven by exploration into activity surrounding six different Crossrail stations – Tottenham Court Road, Whitechapel, Southall, Ilford, Abbey Wood and Woolwich – to understand what has been instrumental or missing in delivering positive change.

Despite the work done already, there are still opportunities for local authorities to capitalise on Crossrail’s regeneration potential, according to the report.

In central London, Crossrail hubs such as Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street have already seen increased property values and development, partly thanks to Crossrail’s integration of high-spec station design, over-station development and urban realm, working with host boroughs, Transport for London and other partners.

However, the combination of land values, footfall, community interaction and well-resourced boroughs doesn’t yet exist in some of the places Crossrail will stop, say Future of London.

“Crossrail as Catalyst”, in highlighting partnering and funding approaches for stations, points the way to delivering regeneration at appropriate scales across the route.

Future of London Director Lisa Taylor said the project was sparked by a call from FoL member LB Redbridge for more support for outer London boroughs receiving stations, but the need was broader than that: “Realising the regeneration and development potential of rail schemes matters for London. It matters for future schemes in making their case, and it matters for communities awaiting Crossrail. Our report is an urgent call to action for all involved, and a set of best-practice guidelines to help stakeholders realise the opportunities while there’s still time.

“Our report also identifies how London could achieve much more in terms of station-area regeneration – and its ripple effect on local economies and communities – if greater consideration was given to the ‘non-rail’ aspects of station development right from the outset.”

Martyn Saunders, Principal Consultant at GVA and report contributor, comments: “There is a need for future schemes to be ambitious and seek to maximise the opportunities to deliver growth – both as a mechanism for funding but also to benefit the areas through which they pass.  Routes should seek to optimise regeneration opportunities to ensure they support the need for new housing, commercial and leisure provision across London and beyond.”

Katie Kerr, Senior Planner at Arup and report contributor, said: “This report enables local authorities to capitalise on the regeneration and development potential created by Crossrail. Every community along the route is different but sharing best practice is an effective way to ensure that local authorities can help their areas to become vibrant, productive and sustainable places to live. Initiatives don’t all have to be costly as small-scale changes can make a big impact but now is the time to act.”

The main message looking ahead to Crossrail 2, HS2 and beyond is to broaden the remit of legislation from the start: if regeneration is part of the business case for a rail or other infrastructure project, the report says Parliament must provide the enabling powers – such as land acquisition – and funding structure to support that.

Other recommendations include local control over project funding; targeting public investment to sharpen market appetite in less attractive areas; sustaining leadership teams and knowledge (at strategic and local level) between projects; optimising  routing to serve London’s ongoing growth priorities; engaging early – including being realistic about the pace of transformation; and assessing impacts.

See the full report.

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