Future Park Royal

The Place West London event, Future Park Royal, followed hot on the heels of the Mayor of London’s review of the Old Oak & Park Royal Development Corporation, which recommitted the Mayor to the massive regeneration project.

Victoria Hills, CEO of OPDC came to the event on November 1 with the announcement fresh in her mind.”It’s good news that the new Mayor has 100% reconfirmed his commitment to the regeneration around Old Oak and Park Royal”, she said. “He wants more from Government, and it’s true that other cities on the HS2 route are getting more support, and a better deal on land. However, his review has come out with a strong endorsement of OPDC and its work. Now we want to work with, and support Park Royal in to the future.”

Stephie Joslin, OPDC’s Director of Regeneration and Partnerships, said the prospect of building London’s biggest new station for a century was exciting, and the regeneration of an area five times the size of that at Kings Cross a tantalising prospect. She felt recent announcements had made that easier: “The Mayor’s announcement today signals really strong support for this once in a lifetime opportunity” she said.

“We have an agreement in principle for OPDC to take over ownership of the public land, but the Mayor wants a better deal, and in particular for the right things to be done to allow us to build over an operational railway and station.”

Importantly, OPDC are committed to a future Park Royal with larger employment. “Park ROyal is one of the most important business parks in the UK. It is really important that we protect as much Strategic Industrial Land as possible”, said Stephie.

She said they want to add 10,000 jobs to the 56000 already in Park Royal. This, and the scale of the aspirations around homes, provides a real challenge around intensification and density, and OPDC recognise this.

Lauren Laviniere, Senior Planning Officer at OPDC, took us through the Local Plan. Since the publication of the first draft in March 2016, there has been much consultation and work, heading towards publication of a second draft in March 2017, an examination in public in autumn 2017, and adoption in winter 2017.

The emerging plan has three main charactoer areas – the industrial element in Park ROyal, homes, offices and a town centre at Old Oak, and the wide open spaces of Wormwood Scrubs, London’s largest green space.

Lauren too acknowledged the success of Park Royal and its importance to the London economy. SHe said the Local Plan would look to support Strategic Industrial Land, intensify employment, improve transport, deliver better amenity in Park Royal itself, improve utilities provision, and deliver employent opportunities through the work programme.

“This will be a strong paltform for growth, particularly in medtech, cleantech, and advanced & creative manufacturing,” she said. “And we want to improve the local services for those who live and work here”.

Lori Hoinkes, OPDC’s Park Royal Business Manager, outlined the four key areas OPDC was seeking to effect – infrastructure, skills, business support from the Estates Team, and intensification.

On infrastructure, Peter O’Dowd of OPDC outlined the work being done on the platform of the previous DIF study which identified the desired infrastructure, and the gap between funding and cost. “We need to upgrade electicity, gas, and potable water provision”, he said, which will have been music to the ears of Park Royal businesses. “We need also to upgrade the foul water handling, and introduce more rainwater recycling”.

Claire Woodcock, OPDC, showed an intereesting transport map, demonstrating that many of Park Royal’s workers travel in from Brent, and that more than half or all workers arrive by private car. “There are many challenges to getting people to walk, cycle or use public transport”, she said. “Wide roads, barriers, and more make it difficult to walk to your final destination.” So OPDC shows the desire to address Park Royal’s key problem – congestion – something which will be even more important if 10,000 more people are to travel in to the park for work each day.

On skills, Rachel Tevanesam, the Park Royal support officer at OPDC, said their work so far had identified the main needs as basic skilled staff, and those with STEM skills. THis was the subject of a new collaboration with EH West London College, called Hub, which delivered both new skilled employees, and training to existing ones.

Karen Surdhar, OPDC, talked about the estates team, and reassuringly said OPDC were looking at a number of structures – such as BIDs and Enterprise Zones – to ensure businesses are supported, that their voice is heard, that the image of the park improves, and that the inward investment that it needs materialises.

Businesses present discussed many aspects of the plans, and the future of Park Royal. Many agreed that the current facilities at Central Park Royal were inadequate, and that current transport options made them inaccessible to most workers.

Others felt that the plans were heading in the right direction, but that “more urgency” was needed. Andrew Dakers or the Park Royal Business Group praised the work being done on utilities, congestion, and to brighten up some of the area’s “squalid passageways”.

There was a message to all the businesses on Park Royal. hris Maw of PwC said “We need to have more people interested. It’s a responsibility for all of us here to make sure that as many businesses as possible engage. It is important that Park Royal represents a collective view”.

Certainly to enhance the economic contribution of Park Royal will need more engagement from the business community than has so far been the case. The vision of Old Oak may be 20 years away from being realised, but the plans are being laid now.

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