Blog: 22 June 2017The power of public and private sector partnerships

Justin Kenworthy

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Justin Kenworthy

Planning Director

London office

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Last week I attended the premier event for real estate in London, the London Real Estate Forum (LREF), with around 2,000 developers, investors, retailers and senior policy-makers for two days of discussion, debate and networking. It was a great opportunity to hear opinions from the many corners of the industry, forging new relationships and being able to celebrate the work undertaken in the capital over the last year.

One of the overriding themes that came out of the event, and something that we are not only endorsing but delivering on, was the formation of partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Together with Lucy Taylor, Director of Regeneration and Planning Policy at Ealing Council, we spoke at LREF about the collaborative working relationship between Barton Willmore and the Borough. The partnership has helped to deliver 14-mixed-use sites through joint ventures over the last ten years.

An example of where this is working in the Borough and is helping facilitate new jobs on ex-employment land is The Arches scheme in Southall. The development will create a new business centre with over 2,000 sqm of commercial space alongside 176 new homes and communal space.

In total, throughout the Borough we have worked proactively in partnership with the Council and other partners to help deliver approx. 2,000 units and 3,500 sqm of employment space.

Despite this positive news that is driving Ealing towards 2018 and the arrival of Crossrail in the Borough, there are of course examples of where sites have been slow to come forward or schemes that should benefit from greater place-making aspirations.

We can look at the slow progress being made in commencing construction on the Middlesex Business Centre site, despite benefiting from planning permission. An example showing lack of inspirational place-making design is the creation of a simple ‘box’ Crossrail station in Southall.

Network Rail is hiding away from partnering with the Borough and not seeing the bigger picture. I feel Ealing is missing out on vast employment, housing and public realm opportunities that can be delivered through the intensification of these pockets of land at the five Crossrail stations. The same can be said for areas for development in the immediate vicinity by land assembly rather than token urban realm efforts that are currently being delivered.

Heading just a few miles east from Ealing and you can see what Network Rail can deliver with developers, CAPCO, at the Earl's Court Station scheme after the project used the powers of Compulsory Purchase Orders. The development certainly highlights the benefits of applying to the Secretary of State as it delivers 7,000 new homes, a £1 billion spend annually in the local economy as well as 41 acres of open space including the Lost River Park.

Using land assembly powers and Compulsory Purchase Orders in Ealing would be a key tool in the Borough’s armoury and would go a long way in helping its ambition of becoming the Copenhagen of London with investment in green spaces and cycling initiatives. In my opinion, those powers need to be exercised sooner rather than later. This would help to drive against the development challenges it faces and realise the many opportunities that would allow it to meet growing housing needs, retain the spending power of the growing young professional community in the local economy rather than it leaking out to other parts of London, and importantly maximise the impact of Crossrail.

See the full video from Justin's session at LREF below.


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