Old Oak - a cultural 'city within a city' that will change the face of London

by Kim Megson | 09 Nov 2015

Plans are afoot to transform a swathe of industrial West London wasteland into a huge new cultural city where “people will aspire to live, work and play.”

Exciting details have emerged about the 30-year development scheme for Old Oak and Park Royal Common; conceived as the UK’s largest regeneration project with around 1.35sq km (0.52sq miles) of available space.

CLAD understands that museums, theatre companies, sports and leisure firms will be among those invited to develop a cultural and sporting hub for the development. This will create balance with cultural developments in east London; including the Olympicopolis scheme – which incorporates the Olympic Stadium, ArcelorMittal Orbit and London Aquatics Centre.

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), established in April, has been tasked by Mayor of London Boris Johnson with overseeing the project. The site will capitalise on the new High Speed 2 and Crossrail transport networks to become a thriving new district within the capital.

In an exclusive interview with CLAD, OPDC’s head of planning policy, Tom Cardis, said: “This is the most exciting development in London. We’ve been working with colleagues in the Greater London Authority to look at where the next key growth areas are for the expansion of London’s cultural offerings. We’re developing a cultural vision which will inform our broader Local Plan for the area and set out how OPDC can strengthen London’s position as the cultural capital of the world.

“We think it makes sense to do that in Old Oak and Park Royal; the biggest development site in the country."

The development will be centred around a new transport hub the size of Waterloo which will be linked with Crossrail and HS2. Around 250,000 people will use the station every day when it opens in 2026. From here it will take eight minutes to reach Heathrow Airport and 38 minutes to travel to Birmingham; Britain’s second-largest city. A future tunnel link could also connect the station with Paris via the Eurostar.

Cardis claims the development has the capacity to generate 65,000 new jobs and 25,500 new homes, saying “It’s an entirely new urban area we’re creating. As a consequence, it can take big cultural uses, which could be focused along our new High Street and around the Grand Union Canal to the north of the site near Willesden Junction.

“We’ve thought a lot about how we can make the best use of this canal-side space in the future high-density development. People are very drawn to water and we want to make this area the best it can be as a high-quality leisure and cultural focus in the scheme. It has the potential to be a breathing space in a fantastic environment, with restaurants, cafes and big cultural spaces.”

Cardis told CLAD OPDC is working with a health consultant in planning for the site and have applied for recognition of the development as a Healthy New Town – a National Health Service initiative to celebrate urban areas that “support social cohesion, physical and mental wellbeing, walking cycling and sports in place of our current ‘obesogenic’ built environments”.

Smart technology will be integrated in the wider development to future-proof the area. Driverless cars, ticketless travel and smart parking are all being considered in the project's early planning stages.

OPDC will be consulting on their Local Plan in the new year. It will be accompanied by its cultural vision for the area.CLAD understands approval is not expected to follow until 2017 at the earliest.

The planning framework has been approved by Mayor Johnson, who says the scheme – which covers the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Brent and Ealing – could make a £7bn (US$10.5bn, €9.8bn) annual contribution to the UK economy.

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Plans are afoot to transform a swathe of industrial West London wasteland into a huge new cultural city where “people will aspire to live, work and play.” Exciting details have emerged about the 30-year development scheme for Old Oak and Park Royal Common; conceived as the UK’s largest regeneration project with around 1.35sq km (0.52sq miles) of available space. CLAD understands that museums, theatre companies, sports and leisure firms will
CLD,SAR,PAC,AAC,PRO,ARC,DES,DEV,INV
The scheme will include extensive regeneration around Willesden Junction station / OPDC
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