Crossrail, collaboration – and choreography?

Recent headlines have reflected Crossrail’s wide reach: news that nearly half of firms developing around the Crossrail line cited the scheme as justification for construction in their planning applications; the Mayor of London’s awarding of the ‘mini-Holland’ winners; an announcement from London Councils that surface stations will now undergo independent design reviews. We’ve been following all of this as part of Future of London’s research programme on realising regeneration and development around the scheme. Drawing from these hot topics, and building on themes identified in our first seminar – Maximising Crossrail: The experience so far – collaboration was the focus of our second session, hosted at Arup on 25th February 2014.

1-DSC_0265Martin Scholar, Strategic Planning Manager, GLA and Colin Mann, Head of Borough Engagement, TfL opened the session by offering pan-London perspectives. Crossrail plays a critical role in preparing for the Capital’s anticipated population growth by increasing transport capacity and unlocking new areas for growth. The London Plan’s Opportunity Areas (OAs) reflect this: 18 Crossrail stations are located in or near 14 OAs, which have the combined capacity to support the delivery of 120,000 homes and 320,000 jobs.

Part of the story in realising development and regeneration around Crossrail stations must be in tailoring their delivery to the local context, aligning stakeholders with resources and assets. Accordingly, strategic planning around stations takes different forms, from OA Planning Frameworks focused on the station area (such as in Southall, LB Ealing) to borough-led efforts (such as at Tottenham Court Road, LB Camden).

Some seminar participants suggested that if the full benefit of receiving Crossrail is to be realised, the universally-recognised need to get that environmental ‘fit’ right should be balanced with some minimum threshold of quality and consistency. The public sector, private sector and community all have a stake – and a role – here; but how can this collaboration be realised and be meaningful?

Local authorities may be best placed to align delivery around Crossrail stations, but some participants felt that already-strained public sector resources, coupled with a lack of experience of transport-led regeneration, may make this difficult. Mayoral Development Corporations, Enterprise Zones, and a broadening of Crossrail’s remit were all on the table at the research seminar. Ultimately, it was a question of whether a third-party intermediary – an ‘urban choreographer’, as one participant eloquently put it – who could coordinate stakeholders’ activities and interests would be helpful in maximising benefits.

Translating strategic to local, and engaging all stakeholders in the process, is challenging when delivering any policy or large-scale piece of infrastructure; Crossrail is no exception. Future of London’s research programme will continue to explore questions around collaboration in realising regeneration and development in communities around stations.

This was the second of two research seminars. The Crossrail as Catalyst report will launch on 23rd April 2014. Please check here for updates.

To further inform the project, interested practitioners are invited to add their own perspective to the questions explored at the research seminar.

Drawing from your own experience, consider:

  • In your view, what types of collaboration would help deliver regeneration and development around Crossrail stations?
  • What are the biggest challenges or information gaps in collaboration?
  • How can these barriers be overcome?

Please get in touch with Jennifer Johnson to share your experience through the questions above, or through additional resources or data you are able to share.

The presentations from the seminar are available below.

This research programme is sponsored by:

Crossrail sponsors