Old Oak and Park Royal back on track with HS2 approval for Old Oak Common
PUBLISHED: 17:27 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:27 20 May 2020
The UK’s biggest regeneration project in Old Oak Common is back on track and the mood optimistic despite uncertainty surrounding the Covid pandemic.
A four-hour meeting hosted by the London Policy Forum took place today (May 20) to discuss the development plans of the billion-pound area regeneration project.
This comes as the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) approved a HS2 station in Old Oak Common last night (May 19) and boosted the entire project, which chiefs worried could be abandonedby the new government elected last year.
The station, the biggest being built in the UK, will have 14 platforms, a mix of six high-speed and eight conventional service platforms and a 850m-long station box with volume to fit 6,300 Routemaster buses.
As well as HS2 trains connecting London to the north of England, the station will be served by the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail), Heathrow Express and Great Western trains to Wales and the West of England.
Work on the station starts in June and is projected to take around 10 years.
Liz Peace, chair of OPDC said the station will have “unrivalled connectivity which makes it such an important area for regeneration”.
Old Oak Common station will sit in the centre of a “new town” that will “transform one of London’s most inaccessible areas” and take 20 to 30 years to complete, bringing benefits to Harlesden and surrounding areas.
The corporation, founded by Boris Johnson in 2015 when he was mayor of London, is responsible for the project to develop 24,000 homes on an area covering 650 hectares,
The sprawling site takes in Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham local authorities.
Earlier plans involved OPDC unlocking land in Old Oak North near Willesden Junction, largely owned by Cargiant, a second-hand car dealership.
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Cargiant initially thought of becoming a development partner and relocating, but with the price of industrial land increasing and issues about “viability”, the plan was dropped.
Following a “substantial rethink” of their plans, the OPDC is now taking a western approach where much of the land is publicly owned.
“We are not going to be able to do this unless we can work in partnership,” said Ms Peace. “Collaboration and how we do that is absolutely essential.”
She said that the community was “hugely important” and so too investment to make it all happen.
“Regeneration needs public sector input to make it happen,” she added. “We need to find investment partners, be they public sector ones, maybe overseas investors, we need to find partners who will help us drive this forward, put in the infrastructure and allow us to create a place, not just a development.”
When Dr Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, asked if there was “a conflict” between the Labour mayor’s office and Conservative central government, Ms Peace said: “I hope, particularly in the aftermath of Covid-19, [the mayor and I] will be able to go into central government and say look, whatever the politics of this, this a fabulous opportunity which we shouldn’t miss.
“You, central government, are pouring a billion quid into building a station, you do not want to miss the opportunity of creating this new district of London.”
Cllr Shama Tatler, lead member for regeneration at Brent Council, who was also at the meeting, said: “We’re anticipating the homes and jobs coming forward.
“The OPDC’s [development] location of where it is in Brent, it sits right by some of our most deprived wards, particularly Stonebridge and Harlesden, where we have an average wage of £18,000 a year.
“A third of our residents in those areas are not working, educational attainment is quite low and connectivity is quite poor in parts of those wards, so we need to look at how we can realise the vision of OPDC connecting some of our most needy wards.”
She hoped that Harlesden would benefit from “an enhanced” Willesden Junction Station and added that she wanted to see “industrial capacity increase with intensification of Park Royal”.
Philip Graham, executive director of good growth at the GLA, said: “Being resilient will be a hugely important part of this.”
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