Sir Terry Farrell led off, talking with enthusiasm about his masterplan for the area – some 750ha of generally brownfield land – which could deliver 100,000 jobs and 19,000 new homes.
The Old Oak opportunity area is much bigger than either Canary Wharf, at 11.5ha, or the Olympic Park, at 200ha, and has a lot going for it. The proposed interchange between HS2 and Crossrail offers much more than just an interchange. The chance to create a whole new district of London above ground is one too large to ignore, he said.
HS2’s present plans just include a sealed interchange between the two lines, without even a connection to the neighbouring London Overground or Underground stations. There was general agreement on this among speakers, including Colin Wilson of the GLA, Mike Cummings of SEGRO and Nick Botterill, Leader of LB Hammersmith & Fulham.
Wilson showed the GLA’s thinking in the current draft of their Opportunity Area Planning Framework, with a phased development of the area up to and beyond 2031. The green assets of the area featured heavily – Wormwood Scrubs and Kensal Green Cemetary being two of the largest green sapces in London.
He was at pains to say that the development planned was mainly residential and commercial office/industrial. There was no real need for significant retail elements with Westfield a couple of minutes away on the West London Line.
Mike Cummings made the point that this proposed development was not, as the Olympic Park had been, on derelict land far from any major centres of employment. With Park Roylal right next door, where over 60,000 people work already, it was important that any development enhanced this economic dynamo’s capacity to deliver economic growth and employment. He appealed for plans to provide ways of easing road congestion for the whole area.
Wilson and Botterill both thought that the project was big enough to benefit from a Mayoral Development Corporation, as the Olympic Legacy does, and this would look like a significant possibility if the argument over the station can be won with HS2, and with the Goverment, to create a station equal in passenger throughput to Waterloo, and immediately one of the five biggest in the UK.
Nick Botterill also pointed to the proposed direct link to HS1, and relished that this would bring “passport control in to Hammersmith & Fulham for the first time”.
Old Oak is another example, alongside the battersea Northern Line Extension, of how infrastructure investment can provide the opportunity for significant economic development, and of the value that such investment can release for the future of west London, and indeed the whole city.