The recent disagreement between Steve Norris and Sir Terry Farrell on one side and Sir Edward Lister on the other (11.03.16) demonstrates the challenges that a site such as Old Oak Common has.
The regeneration benefits of this site are unquestionable. However, there are major stakeholders involved in bringing it forward, each with different agendas. Indeed, these agendas are different to those of the local boroughs, which have their own vested interests (which do not always align with each other).
I was involved in discussions with both the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham on behalf of Hitachi back in 2011 (Hitachi operates the former Eurostar depot at North Pole to service and stable the new IEP trains). Even then, it was recognised that there were significant constraints to bringing the entire site forward and that, while an overall vision for the site that had all parties’ buy-in would be useful, it was clear that due to timescales of development and budgets, early delivery of the regeneration of this site would not be achieved.
Five years on from these early discussions, the situation is not much different, although the development corporation has now been established and this has formal planning powers to create a plan for the area.
There are clear opportunities and benefits of developing this site and the aim should be to ensure that developments do not prejudice the overall aims of regeneration. The Crossrail depot is only one of the constraints that needs to be considered. I recollect that in 2011, provision for decking was being considered so that development could be facilitated above the rail lines.
The regeneration of this site is too important for London to argue about through the written media. Perhaps it is time to accept that while not every party’s aspirations can be accommodated, it is for the greater good to work together to deliver the most effective regeneration scheme possible.
Asher Ross, director, head of Boyer Twickenham