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AJ100 Club hears details of 'UK's largest regeneration project'

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Chief executive of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) sets out plan for £26bn west London scheme at breakfast event

An overview of what is billed as the country’s biggest regeneration project was presented to AJ100 members this morning by OPDC chief executive Victoria Hills.

The corporation, established by former mayor Boris Johnson last year, holds full planning powers over a 650ha area covering land in the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent. The £26bn project will create 25,500 new homes and 65,000 jobs.

It will also be home to a new railway station, which Hills said was the largest new-build station for over a century in the UK, for HS2 and Crossrail, and will be the only point in the country where the two lines intersect.

Speaking at the second AJ100 breakfast club in the 2016/17 season at Claridge’s today (9 September), Hills said that the regeneration project provided an ‘enormous opportunity to do something special’, by changing the geography of west London, and improving transport links to Birmingham and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

Hills said: ‘It’s not just a London regeneration scheme, it is a national scheme.’

Hills highlighted numerous opportunities for architects – particularly with the design of the new station.

She said: ‘The big opportunity is the station itself. If you get the station right it’s the catalyst, the heart of opportunity […] why not build a world class station?’

Hills, however, did suggest that UK transport budgets meant the corporation might struggle to match the architectural feat of some of the leading new stations around the world, such as Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center station in New York given Calatrava’s fees.

When asked why this was the case by AJ managing editor Will Hurst, who hosted the event, Hills said that it was a ‘balancing act’ with the government, but questioned: ‘Should we be more ambitious?’

Hills also commented on mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to launch a review into the OPDC, over concerns that his predecessor Boris Johnson may have ‘rushed into [a] deal without doing the due diligence checks’.

Revealing that the review will conclude later this autumn, she said: ‘We welcome [the review], it’s timely – and a good time to take stock.’

Hills was also asked about whether the regeneration would present job opportunities for small and medium sized practices.

She said that, although large practices would be involved, the project would continue to ‘support that mix’ and include work for smaller practices.

The event was sponsored by AJ100 sponsors Aliva, Bespoke, Deltalight, Equitone, Graphisoft, Grohe, Hoare Lea, Miele, Schluter Systems and Schueco.

The next AJ100 breakfast will take place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow on 14 October, when the keynote speaker will be Philip Long, director of the V&A Dundee.


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