Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Old Oak Common - The New Heart of West London?

                                                        Old Oak Common Railway Sidings
                                                   The site for the new exchange station

Yesterday I spent the day at the Place West London Conference at Olympia in London. This is an annual bash of the movers and shakers of the area who come together to share ideas and information on whats being built and planned for the area.

For me the highlight of the day were the presentations by architect and masterplanner Sir Terry Farrell, Colin Wilson of the Greater London Authority and Nick Botterill, Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, on the development potential of Old Oak Common. This is not actually a common, as in a public park and open space. It is a former railway depot and sidings on the old Great Western Railway route out of Paddington to England's west country. It was originally developed by the pioneer railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the mid nineteenth century. Its strategic importance for west London , and indeed London and the south east region of the UK, lies in its location. It is a place where the main lines out of Euston to the north west and Scotland and the line from Paddington are very close together, a place where the new High Speed 2 route and Crossrail will pass through, and a place intersected by the new London Overground rail service. 

At the moment the rail planners of HS2 see it as just an exchange junction station connecting the line out of Paddington, Crossrail and HS2. A pretty limited vision in my opinion , a view shared by Sir Terry, Nick and Colin who have come together to explore how the linking of these intersecting railway lines might actually create more than just a station but a station that is a place and destination in its own right, a place where people could live, learn, work and socialise - a place that would put west London even more on the map than it currently is.

Watch this space and the press for news on the progress of this visionary idea.