Underground warehouse approved

Hounslow Council has approved Formal Investments plans for gravel extraction leading to the construction of an underground warehouse and new public park.

Rectory Park, on the current site of Rectory Farm, would be the largest new park in West London for more than 100 years, and include all-weather football pitches, hockey and cricket pitches, plus a variety of other facilities alongside fields and tree-lined paths for walking, running and cycling.

Historically the 110 acres of green belt land was agricultural but has not been farmed since 1996, say Formal Investments, due to years of antisocial behavior, fly tipping, trespass, vandalism and concerns over food safety.

The extraction will take place beneath the park’s surface with the process contained below ground in contrast to open cast mining.

The site alongside The Parkway (A312) and Bath Road (A4) will deliver Hounslow’s share of minerals required by the London Plan, say Formal. Some of the minerals will be used on-site to construct the up to 177,500 sqm of underground warehousing space also approved.

Formal say that the proposed subterranean warehouse space will provide the funds to developed and maintain the park. Together with the extraction and construction, this will attract new economic development to the area and provide up to 2,500 new jobs – including roles in the park’s delivery, management and maintenance.

Work is expected to begin in 2019 with the first area of the park opening in 2020 and the first underground warehouse space is expected to be available for businesses to use from 2022 during a 15 year period of extraction, construction and landscaping activity.

The professional team on the project includes architect Carmody Groarke, development expert DP9, landscape architect VOGT, engineer ARUP and property and construction consultancy Gleeds.

Formal Investments director Nicholas King said: “With increasing worldwide demand for warehousing space close to and within cities, we believe Rectory Farm’s creative solution of putting such infrastructure underground whilst enhancing the surface environment could inspire similar approaches elsewhere.”

Kevin Carmody, of Carmody Groarke, said: “As our global cities become increasingly urbanised, pressure on sourcing and distributing resources will undoubtedly grow accordingly.

“At the same time, architects and designers, investors and politicians, have the duty to meet these huge challenges with very localised strategies, to positively improve places that directly affect people’s lives.”

Tristan McDonnell, director of Arup, said: “As engineers our challenge was to find a way to minimise disruption and make the park available to the community as quickly as possible. Together with Carmody Groarke, we’ve achieved this by applying top-down construction methods, commonly used for high rise buildings with deep basements.

“At Rectory Farm a structural roof slab and foundations will be installed to allow excavation and construction to progress discretely below ground. This method means the community won’t have to wait long to enjoy the largest park created in West London for 100 years.”

Bridget Outtrim, director at Savills, said: “Rectory Farm offers a pioneering and innovative solution to the shortage of industrial space inside the M25. Its key feature is its unique combination of quantum of developable space and close proximity to West London’s growing population.”

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