Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has just green-lighted a new £10 billion town centre for Old Oak Common. The Resident looks at the proposals, and what’s happening in neighbouring Acton

Words: Trish Lesslie

It’s being billed as the ‘Canary Wharf of the west’. Now, with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan having just green-lighted the first housing development, the proposed £10 billion development of Old Oak and Park Royal is set to turn a vast swathe of industrial land into a thriving new part of London.

‘Old Oak and Park Royal is one of the most important regeneration projects in London with scope to deliver tens of thousands of new homes and jobs,’ says Deputy Mayor for Housing, James Murray. The 650-acre site straddles three boroughs – Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent – and has the potential to deliver 25,500 new homes and 65,000 jobs over the next 30-40 years.

An apartment block of up to 45 storeys is at the heart of the £5 billion proposal for the Cargiant site, which is being redeveloped on the 46 acres of Old Oak Park currently owned by the used car dealer. If it wins consent from the Mayor’s Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, the tower will be one of London’s tallest residential buildings – and the tallest in west London. New schools and parks are also promised, with historic buildings including retained for posterity.

The approved plans for the first major housing development at the Old Oak regeneration site will see 605 new homes built – with a target of 50% affordable housing agreed with City Hall

‘Cargiant has been based in Old Oak Common since 1985, employing over 800 people and supporting the local economy,’ says Tony Mendes, Managing Director of Cargiant. ‘It’s so important to me that in planning for the future of our land, we respond to what is important to the communities around us – like retaining the 40s Rolls Royce building and making a more beautiful and safer environment around the canal.’

Plans also include a new cultural quarter, aiming to attract international visitors. Strong rumour has it that the Science Museum will establish a new building at the centre, which would place the area firmly on London’s cultural map. The Cargiant plans also promise a 200m viaduct and a Central Square complete with markets and activity space at the heart of the canal-side ‘new town’.

Two more towers of 30 storeys and eight of between 20 and 30 storeys have also been proposed, which will create one of Europe’s biggest transport hubs by 2026, with stations for HS2, Crossrail and Underground and Overground.

The approved plans for the first major housing development at the Old Oak regeneration site will see 605 new homes built – with a target of 50% affordable housing agreed with City Hall – together with a nursery, and health centre.

There are plans to retain the 40s Rolls Royce building on the site

‘The development marks a significant step in realising the huge potential of this part of the capital,’ says the Mayor. ‘The scale and ambition for this development shows London is very much open for business. Despite the uncertainty caused by the UK’s vote to leave the EU, it remains clear that developers and investors see long-term potential in our city. I am pleased that we have been able to increase the proportion of genuinely affordable homes as part of our ongoing efforts to fix the capital’s housing crisis.’

Khan is also keen to ensure the development is fully integrated with existing neighbourhoods, including Acton Town. Once known as Soapsud Island thanks to the soft local water that made it the laundry-centre of Victorian London, the area is home to a cosmopolitan community, with new developments springing up around its period properties.

It’s home to a thriving nightlife scene, with The George and Dragon on the High Street a firm favourite. For those who want carry the night beyond pub last orders, there’s the The Aeronaut (formerly the Redback Tavern), with an on-site micro brewery, live circus acts and salsa dancing on Sundays. 

For more sober pasttimes, there’s the lovely Gunnersbury Park, which houses a museum (currently closed until spring 2017) in the one-time residence of the Rothschild family. There’s also the pretty Acton Park, home to a café, tennis courts, playgrounds and even a bowling green.

The one-time residence of the Rothschild family in Gunnersbury Park (photo: Lancey)

Acton Market takes place on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday outside St Mary’s Church on King Street. Head there to pick up everything from fruit and veg to local artwork. Churchfield Road is home to some fine independent shops including the great English Butchers and Park and Bridge, a wonderful wine shop specialising in organic and biodynamic vino.

On the property front, Twyford Avenue – one of the priciest in the area – boasts large Edwardian houses ideal for young families, while the ‘poets roads’ (Shakespeare, Chaucer, Cowper, Milton and Goldsmiths) have a village-like feel.

Young professionals and families are attracted to the friendly streets of Acton, its relatively affordable house prices and good schools. The children now attending those schools will be long into adulthood by the time the plans for Old Oak Common come to fruition. Having seen a new slice of London emerge from the ashes of the industrial city in their lifetime, they’ll have some tales to tell…

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