The lads in the Place West London team have reminded me that next Tuesday (23 October) is the annual one day economic development summit for the west London sub-region known as ..um… Place West London.
There’s usually a bit of a bun-fight at this cracking event (see my picture of Boris being assailed by residents of the West Kensington Estate last year) and this year looks to be no exception. They’ve certainly got some big name speakers.
The keynote address on transport will be given by Stephen Hammond MP, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport (whose portfolio includes transport in London) and then there’s going to be a few heads put into the lion’s mouths on issues around aviation – and what west London businesses genuinely need – including the third runway (there, I’ve said it!) with Daniel Moylan, mayoral adviser and TfL board member and Lord Clive Soley. Well, we can predict their position. But Wandsworth council leader Ravi Govindia is also speaking and he may take… er… a slightly different view.
And if all that weren’t enough, well, back by popular demand is Sir Terry Farrell, together with his eyebrows, to present details of perhaps the most ambitious transformation in west London: Old Oak and Park Royal which has been billed as “West London’s Olympics”. I do declare! Now, I may still hold a candle for Park Royal (and Old Oak come to that) but do I detect a touch of hubris here?
Well, hell’s teeth, nobody ever said you couldn’t have chutzpah and ambition. And certainly the late great John Sienkiewicz always marked out this patch for the next high density opportunity for London and that bloke was never wrong (although possibly a couple of decades too early on quite a few of his ideas).
Other high-profile speakers include the divine leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council Nick Botterill who, together with Richard Powell of CapCo and Mel Barratt, regeneration director of Hammersmith and Fulham, may be saying some interesting things about Earls Court. Ben Giddens of Quintain and Stephen Neal of Land Securities will, likewise, be briefing on large-scale developments in the sub region. There’s a lot going on.
And this year west London – the Boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow have been joined by Nine Elms. The sub-region has a population of nearly two million people, and is a big local economy in the UK (third only to the City of London and Birmingham) akin to the size of Frankfurt.
It’s an economic dynamo, containing Heathrow Airport, Park Royal, and many other important centres of employment. Occupiers such as GlaxoSmithKline and BSkyB choose West London as their home.
Major regeneration programmes like Hounslow town centre, Southall Gasworks, Wembley City, the White City Opportunity Area, as well as the aforementioned Earls Court and Old Oak, are mushrooming all over the sub-region, which, throughout the economic difficulties of the past few years, has bucked the trend by continuing to be a busy development market and remains an excellent place to invest.
There’ll be a few hundred folk there on Tuesday. And of course I will know most of ‘em. I am such an old lag. Delegates from west London businesses, councils and regeneration sector organisations will be having a right “mash up”: debating and discussing the future of the third largest economy in the UK. There’ll be a laugh to be had. There’ll be a glass of wine to be had. And there may be a barney or two. What more could you want?
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