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07/03/2016

Old Oak and Park Royal regeneration: What you need to know

Words: Laura Edgar
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Last week, the London Irish Town Planners held a seminar on urban regeneration, featuring the director of planning at the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation. Here, The Planner takes a look at what we need to know about the capital's largest development, which aims to deliver 24,000 homes and create 55,000 jobs.

Corporation acts as planning authority

 

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, which is a statutory body, was established on 1 April 2015. According to Michael Mulhern, the Corporation’s director of planning, it is currently the “largest regeneration project” in the UK.

As a statutory body, the Corporation is effectively the planning authority for the area – it is responsible for writing the planning policy, negotiating Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and s.106 agreements, and determining planning applications, as well as having compulsory purchase powers.

“We have taken over the planning powers from the local boroughs”, Mulhern said.

HS2 station will be second largest in UK

 

Mulhern said that when talks began four years ago, the government was in discussions with the Mayor of London about the delivery of High Speed 2 (HS2), which is “clearly about transport, moving people around, from the north and vice-versa”. The conversation also took on a new element: regeneration.

The HS2 Bill is currently going through parliament and the new line is scheduled to be operational in 2026. Mulhern said the station at Old Oak and Park Royal “will be the largest built in the UK in nearly a century.

“When fully operational it will be 90 per cent of the size of Waterloo, making it the second largest station in the UK.”

That station will be built on a 140-hectare brownfield site in zone 2. There will be four other stations on the development site: two existing – North Acton and Willesden Junction; and two new London Overground stations, with lines to Clapham Junction and to Richmond. A Crossrail deport will also be located on the site. The Corporation is currently discussing the plans with Transport for London.

‘Creating a heartbeat’ for the area

 

Mulhern began working on the project two years ago. He said it was about how to “create a heartbeat for Old Oak”.

“How do we think about rail and transport as a catalyst to bring people in, work there and how do we keep them?” he asked.

Talking about a visit to the Oculus Station, situated at the bottom of the World Trade Centre in New York, which has just reopened, Mulhern said the work done on the building is “incredible”. While the Corporation doesn’t have $4 billion to spend on creating a "heartbeat" or the new HS2 station, Mulhern said it can “aspire to create something that is a focal point, something we can be proud of”.

The scale of the development

 

Mulhern compared the development work going on at King’s Cross to Old Oak and Park Royal:

King’s Cross:Old Oak and Park Royal
  • 26 hectares
  • Approximately 2,000 homes
  • Circa 2,000 jobs
  • 140 hectares core size
  • Approximately 24,000 homes
  • 55,000 jobs

 

The development includes 17 hectares of Metropolitan Open Land, including Wormwood Scrubs, which will be turned into an asset with improived access, according to Mulhern.

Why include Park Royal? 

 

Park Royal is around 400 hectares in size, on top of the 140 hectares of the core Old Oak site.

Mulhern said it has been included in the Corporation, not to redevelop it but because there 15,000 businesses and 36,000 employees working there.

“We have included it because if you build a new city on Park Royal’s doorstep, it could present massive problems for Park Royal if you don’t think about transport and utilities, the future growth sector”.

The Corporation is thinking about how Park Royal, Old Oak, Wormwood Scrubs, Harlesden, White City, East Acton, Kensal and Wembley fit together: “What is all of their roles?”

Mulhern continued by saying that if you add Wembley with Old Oak and Park Royal, White City and Kensal together, “which is six miles across, in terms of capacity to deliver homes, that’s 20 per cent, one fifth, of London’s growth over the next 20 years focused in these areas”.

Connectivity and integration

 

Mulhern said it was critical Park Royal is thought about “carefully”.

The Corporation has produced a Park Royal atlas following a “detailed door-knocking exercise” across all business in the area to ensure it has “a great understanding of who is there, what they are doing, what the rental values are”. This is all being monitored regularly.

For the Corporation, he said it was important that what is built at Old Oak does not “kill places like Harlesden”.

“For us, central to that, will be connectivity and integration between the different places […] Where we are now has great east-west connectivity, great north-south connectivity, now how do we integrate that with Old Oak and the surrounding area?”

‘Unashamedly’ high density

 

Mulhern said Old Oak North is “unashamedly high density”.

“We’re not afraid of it. You can do that really well as long as you have got front doors on the street, good internal environments, good social infrastructure and green space.

“And if you do that and hold out for that and secure that, then actually, density isn’t something that we need to be frightened of.”

Image credit | Petr Brož

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