Hammersmith & Fulham: "Work with us to maximise HS2 potential"

Link to PDF: Vision for Park Royal City International

Thursday November 1, 2012

Billions of pounds worth of economic growth would be generated if Whitehall departments worked more closely with local authorities on major infrastructure projects, according to three leading London boroughs.

Multi-billion pound schemes – like High Speed 2 (HS2) – are often planned in Government ‘silos’ limiting their potential, according to the Leaders of Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F), Westminster (WCC) and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC).

The £32billion rapid rail link between London and Birmingham will see a new generation of high speed trains, running at speeds of up to 250mph, stopping at a major new interchange station just north of Wormwood Scrubs. [That cost is to Manchester and Leeds, not just Birmingham.]

Dubbed Park Royal City International, the interchange will be the final stop before the trains terminate at Euston. The Government has recognised the station’s vital role in taking pressure off busy central London terminals – which could not cope with 13,000 extra passengers an hour.

Around a third of all HS2 passengers are expected to transfer at Park Royal City International onto the station’s unrivalled rail and road connections.

However, there are currently no firm HS2 plans for ‘over-site’ development at the station and the local councils argue that HS2 would be capable of delivering many more new jobs and homes than currently envisaged if Government departments worked more closely with them.

If the railway design was optimised to facilitate development above and around the HS2 hub station, as well as the Kensal Green Crossrail station, the area could deliver 21,000 new homes and 196,000 new jobs. A master plan from world renowned architect Sir Terry Farrell shows how the area could become the largest regeneration project the capital has ever seen.

The additional development would be worth £74billion and up to twenty-five per cent of London’s growth over the next thirty years could be accommodated on the site, according to the ‘Tri-borough’ councils.

“A radical shift is needed in the way Whitehall interacts with councils if we are going to maximise the potential of major infrastructure projects to generate growth,” says Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader. “HS2 is not just a railway line it has huge potential to be the catalyst that creates large numbers of new homes and jobs along the route. But Government departments need to work more closely with local authorities so that we rewire services around people and places rather than Government silos.”

Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell, the Leader of RBKC, added: “There is getting on for billion pounds of value locked up in the Kensal site, to unlock it we need a Crossrail station. It is not always easy to get transport specialists to see the economic case we need Central Government to step back and see the big picture and to work with local authorities to realise the potential of these sites.”

The councils argue that the current silo approach stifles the potential of major infrastructure schemes and provides very little opportunity to understand the rationale behind the decision making process, and even less scope for those outside the silo to influence decisions. Timetables are solely based on the silo’s needs and plans to create wider benefits, such as new homes and community facilities, are too often regarded as costs that risk delays.

Around half of working age adults within 1.2miles of the hub station are unemployed and parts of the area are in the bottom 1% most deprived nationally.

Cllr Botterill continues: “Maximising regeneration and development on the back of major infrastructure projects needs to be a cross-government responsibility. In the case of the HS2 that means central Government needs to work with us to ensure that the configuration of the stations and depots at Park Royal City International and Kensal support regeneration.

“If government departments heed our advice and start working more closely with us vast swathes of derelict industrial land in one of London’s poorest areas could be transformed.

“HS2 has the potential to unleash the creation of a new business hub bigger than Canary Wharf but only if the Whitehall bureaucrats start seeing this as a regeneration project, which needs local input and expertise, rather than just a railway project.”

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