The Restorative Neighbourhood

By Daniel Epstein

Featured image of Post: The Restorative Neighbourhood

Setting a sustainability agenda for Old Oak and Park Royal

Useful Projects’ Director Dan Epstein shares some thoughts on the potential for creating a new ‘Restorative Neighbourhood’ in West London.

How do you ensure that the biggest development opportunity area in London sets new standards for healthy, high quality, low carbon living?

Major projects are by their nature complex and multi-faceted. They have multiple agendas that need to be balanced. The projects that do this most successfully and deliver long term social, economic and environmental value are those that have a clear and ambitious vision expressed as a series of clear outcomes. The vision needs to be accompanied by strong leadership and a culture committed to meeting those outcomes.

An example is the London Olympics, which was committed not only to delivering a successful event but, more importantly, to ensuring that investment in the games would create a lasting and sustainable legacy. The Olympic Board and the leadership on the different delivery vehicles never lost site of the bigger picture and never compromised the legacy. The quality and sustainability of the park has set new standards for development across London.

The development and growth of Old Oak and Park Royal, that is being managed by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), is an even bigger and more challenging project than the regeneration of the Olympic Park. The total area is 650 hectares (the Olympic Park is circa 250ha).

OPDC is home to the biggest industrial estate in Europe and will be the site for the biggest new rail interchange in the UK in over 100 years. 250,000 people per day will interchange between HS2 and Crossrail, forming the heart of a new London neighbourhood that will include 25,000 homes and deliver 65,000 new jobs. The project is key to London sustaining its position as one of the world’s most important cities and meeting the needs of a rapidly growing population and will take 25 years or more to complete. This is a new type of development that is unprecedented in the UK. It will range in density from 300-600 homes per hectare (typically, inner city boroughs have densities of 100-150 hha).

Setting a strong vision and clear objectives for this site is an important first step. OPDC are currently working on a Local Plan that will define the strategic approach to development. Useful Projects has been supporting that work by helping to develop an environmental sustainability vision and strategy that will form part of the emerging Local Plan.

We have been working on a thought piece, ‘The Restorative Neighbourhood’ to define the overarching principles that need to be incorporated into the plan. This will lead directly into the formation of strategies and targets and will shape the long term development of the project.

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