A 44ha public park built over a gravel extraction pit is to be created near Heathrow Airport as part of an ambitious Carmody Groarke masterplan to regenerate disused farmland
Hounslow Council’s planning committee has recommended approval for the innovative Rectory Farm scheme, which will lie just over a kilometre to the east of the airport.
A ’deep subterranean space’ created by mineral quarrying below the park surface will later be converted to house around 175,000m² of underground warehouse and storage space.
Above, a new urban ‘green corridor’ will provide public recreational space for local communities on former grade 2 agricultural land, which has not been farmed since 1996 due to antisocial behaviour, vandalism and concerns over food safety. It will also link neighbouring communities.
The design for the park follows consultation with residents, the council’s leisure team and Sport England.
The scheme is backed by landowner Formal Investments, a private investment and asset management company.
Carmody Groarke, which has worked on elements of the scheme for more than eight years, is overseeing the masterplan and the urban design and has collaborated with landscape architect VOGT, engineer Arup and development expert DP9. The plan will be realised over the next 10 years.
The mineral extraction will take place beneath the park’s surface using a ‘top-down’ method, in contrast to open-cast mining, which will allow the site to be publicly accessible within a year.
It is currently anticipated that work will start in 2019 with a view to allowing public access from 2020.
Following the excavation of approximately three million tonnes of mineral beneath the park, a concrete basement structure will be built to create underground warehouse space to lease. This will fund the ongoing development and maintenance of the public park.
Kevin Carmody, of Carmody Groarke, said: ‘As our global cities become increasingly urbanised, pressure on sourcing and distributing resources will undoubtedly grow accordingly. At the same time, architects and designers, investors and politicians, have the duty to meet these huge challenges with very localised strategies, to positively improve places that directly affect people’s lives.’
The extraction and construction work is expected to provide up to 2,500 new jobs.