Old Oak regen a potential screw up says urban planner.

Over the past 10 years or so, North West London (particularly Harlesden and the surrounding area) has been no stranger to regeneration. with the 2009 demolition of the brooding concrete high rises of the Stonebridge Park council estate, infamously riddled with gun crime, the area is being ‘glammed up’. The buildings are replaced with modern looking flats, almost reminiscent of a family holiday park you went to as a kid. Recent additions of a Costa branch and a gastro pub could foretell the future of NW10. The latest venture for the area is the planned regeneration scheme of Old Oak Common.

Old Oak Common, lying on the borders of Brent, Hammersmith & Fulham and Ealing is mainly known for it’s railway depots – the Old Oak Common TMD in particular- and was historically a centre for pig farming in the mid-nineteenth century. The OPDC (Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation) was officially launched on April 1st 2015 by Boris Johnson and has also recently given the ‘green light’ by current mayor Sadiq Khan. Its main aims are to transform the area into a “well-connected, world-class transport interchange”, provide new housing and commercial development and to renovate the nearby Wormwood Scrubs. The area will be the only transport hub where HS2 meets the Elizabeth Line (formerly branded as Crossrail) and the OPDC want to capitalise on this by creating “a thriving new area in the city; somewhere people will aspire to live, work and play, and a destination people will return to visit time and time again.”

The OPDC also state that they have a “key role in protecting and enhancing heritage assets” and are ensuring that their responsibility to conserve the historical area is visibly reflected in the new Local Plan. The Old Oak Outline Historic Area Assessment was published in 2015 by Historic England to inform the local plan and the designation of heritage assets and conservation areas. The document is being used to create a “snapshot of the historic character of Old Oak” and assess this for the rest of the general OPDC area.

Despite the OPDC’s attractive proposal for this new regeneration plan; there have of course been many who oppose it. One of these opposers is renowned urban planner and architect, Sir Terry Farrell who warns that the £10 billion scheme has the potential to become “London’s worst cock up in 50 years”. Farrell claims that the rush to complete the Elizabeth Line will mean that most of the planned development in the area won’t be able to take place. This is due to the Elizabeth Line’s engineers not making sufficient space for the construction of flats, offices, restaurants and shops on the decking over the tracks. He goes on to state that without the essential decking needed to create the 12,000 planned homes in the area, the development would not be viable and that redesigning the sidings to create enough room for the pilings would take several months longer than initially planned for the development and could cost up to £200 million.

sources:  (https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/organisations-we-work/old-oak-and-park-royal-development-corporation-opdc/about-opdc-

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/old-oak-common-regeneration-scheme-risks-being-londons-worst-cockup-in-50-years-a3194581.html

image: Courtesy of OPDC

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