Bit of a body blow for the West London mafia in the last few days, as Transport secretary Philip Hammond ruled out the idea of a Crossrail interchange for High Speed 2 at Old Oak Common – which he rather amusingly has termed a “wet suburban station somewhere in north west London”.
He clearly didn’t get a favourable impression of the place “Lug your heavy bags down a couple of escalators along 600m of corridor and then change trains at a wet suburban station somewhere in north west London. That is not an option.”
I wonder when he visited. Because it isn’t always wet. And it is a veritable hub.
This announcement is something of a setback for the redoubtable team of Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh and Cllr Mark Loveday at the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, who have been pushing Old Oak and its “huge regeneration potential”, ably assisted by the crew at the Park Royal Partnership and the West London Partnership, at MIPIM and elsewhere.
What a shame that Philip Hammond missed the point of not just linking HS2 to major transport connections but seriously unlocking a major developable site in public sector ownership, tapping into the economy of Park Royal and putting homes along underused canal sides.
But hope springs eternal!
Mr Hammond went on to say that a link from HS2 to Heathrow was something the Government was keen on, and that it could be at a location away from the Airport. And the report by former Tory transport secretary, Brian Mawhinney, recently said that the Old Oak option would be an excellent way of linking Heathrow to the proposed High Speed 2 rail network, and give better options to travellers than linking to Heathrow via Euston.
The late great John Sienkiewicz, that great London planner, used to get all dewy eyed about Old Oak (although he tended to call it “Willesden Junction” which, of course, is how I think of it) as the greatest transport hub, still to be discovered by some visionary property developer who would then clean up by unlocking this hidden gem. He was pushing it for 25 years to my secure knowledge. Deep sigh. Regeneration is long game.
Note to Hammersmith leadership: must try harder with own people in future. Note to Park Royal Partnership: shouldn’t you seriously now position your partnership as a ready-made Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for Boris’s people and put the campaign for High Speed 2 at Old Oak (ooh I’ve just thought of a logo for you!
What about HS2@OO? How cool and trendy is that? Please don’t worry about putting any cheque in the post) at the centre of the economic strategy for the area?
You know, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.