The project promoter of a new mega development in the capital is to step up pressure on government over funding of the scheme’s crucial infrastructure hub.
The incoming chair of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) is to “lead discussions” with the Department for Transport over where funding will come from for the massive transfer deck element that will be needed to span over a Crossrail depot and enable creation of a High Speed 2/Crossrail super-hub interchange.
Speaking at a NCE100 Technical Excellence breakfast briefing on Friday, OPDC chief executive Victoria Hills said there was no straight answer right now as to who would pay for the structure, which would enable development of potentially lucrative over-site development on the development area. Hills pointed to the ambitious design for West Kowloon high speed rail terminus in Hong Kong as an example of how bold the Old Oak development could be.
It is a major talking point as the transport hub sits at the heart of the development area, Britain’s largest, and with direct connections to Heathrow airport, central London, Canary Wharf, the West Midlands and major cities in the north of England, the site has huge potential. Hills has previously said that the hub deserves a world-renowned designer of the likes of Santiago Calatrava, and repeated this call, citing Caltrava’s recently completed Occulus transport hub in New York. But again she questioned whether the corporation alone could afford to pay for such a design.
Oculus World Trade Center Transit Hub New York 5
“It’s a very live discussion,” she said. “I don’t think I can give a straight answer [on who should pay] at this moment in time.”
She added that the deck offered up a “fantastic opportunity” for over-site development but that it was still unclear on how it would be delivered. However, she said transport secretary Chris Grayling understood the benefits. “The new secretary of state [for Transport] is very interested in how you can commercialise stations,” Hills said.
Current proposals from High Speed 2 are for a very modest station that affords little or no opportunity for over-site development, and Hills said this needed to be improved on.
Showing the image on screen, she added that ” I will keep showing this image until High Speed 2 give me a better one”.
Hills stressed the urgency for improving the design ahead of a November/December deadline, which is when she expected Invitations to Tender (ITT) to be issued for HS2 phase one station construction contracts – two for London at Old Oak and Euston and two in Birmingham.
“We haven’t got the answers to ‘how’ yet,” she said. “Those discussions are evolving. But we will need the answers to the how by November/December because that’s when, as it currently stands, the ITT goes out.”
Prequalification for the station contracts is due to begin in the late spring, once the civils construction contracts are awarded.
Hills added that resolving funding issues for an improved transport hub will be one of the top priorities for the corporation’s new chair. She said that a decision had been made on the role and that the new chair would be announced after the international property fair MIPIM in a fortnight. A spokesperson for the Mayor of London confirmed that London mayor Sadiq Khan was likely to make an appointment shortly.
The spokesman added that the new OPDC chair will also be tasked with approving the appointment of a masterplanning team. A note on the mayor’s website says OPDC was reviewing the submitted responses to the ITT received last December, and aims to appoint the masterplanning team by March (this month).
A spokesperson for the London mayor told New Civil Engineer: “The recruitment process for a new chair for the OPDC is ongoing and the mayor is likely to make an appointment shortly.
Masterplanning team shortlist
- Aecom (lead supplier) with team members - BIG, Bilfinger, GVA, Fluid, Maccreanor Lavington, PBA, Weston Williamson, Spacehub, Wilkinson Eyre, East
- Allies & Morrison (lead supplier) with team members - Diener & Diener, Weston Williamson, Muf, HHBR, Andersen Hunter Horn, Waterman Group, Steer Davies Gleave, Turner & Townsend, Fluid, Nathaniel Lichfield + Partners, Centre for London, Metephor
- Arup (lead supplier) with team members - KCAP, Gustafson Porter, S333, PAU, Turner + Townsend, People Friendly Design, London Communications Agency
- Farrells & Heatherwick Studio (lead supplier) with team members - Exterior Architecture, Arup, Arcadis, Bio Regional, ATK11, Steer Davies Gleave, Turleys, Volterra, GHD Rail Engineering, Colliers, Soundings, London Communications Agency, Flexeye, Siemens
- Grimshaw (lead supplier) with team members - FutureCity, LDA, QUOD, Amec Foster Wheeler, Urban Strategies, Rick Mather Architects, DK-CM, Soundings, Mott MacDonald, RLB, Steer Davies Gleave
- Hawkins Brown (lead supplier) with team members - Kathryn Firth, White, Metropolitan Workshop, Benedetti Architects, Grant Associates, Turley, Donald Insall Assocs, Pell Frischmann, Tyrens, Phil Jones Assocs, Turner + Townsend, Soundings, Social Life, Fourth Street
- Karakusevic Carson Architects & 5th Studio (lead supplier) with team members - We Made That, Agence Ter, Alan Baxter, AKT II, Quod, Hoare Lea, Soundings, EC Harris/Arcadis