At long last, the regeneration of White City has got off the starting blocks. The White City Stadium was built to host the 1908 Olympics — more than a century before Stratford got its turn — and the district went on to become the spiritual home of the BBC. However, its future has been unclear for a decade.
Now as a counterbalance to London’s eastward shift, White City has been designated an “opportunity area” — allowing the 20 hectares of land at its heart, just north of Shepherd’s Bush, to be reinvented as west London’s biggest and brightest new district.
It will have 5,000-plus new homes, a Harvard-style university campus and centre of academic excellence, a media village and an office complex for blue-chip businesses. White City’s ascendancy is so assured that Soho House is opening a boutique hotel there.
Family-friendly: rows of townhouses with private back gardens are planned to the south of the former Television Centre site, around a "village green"
A tough task
The BBC’s departure from the iconic and listed Television Centre, now owned by developer Stanhope, has paved the way for a masterplan that aims to put White City on an equal footing with neighbouring Notting Hill and Holland Park as a banker-and-broker enclave.
It is a challenging task, though. This landlocked commercial zone corralled by train tracks, the roaring A40 and West Cross Route dual carriageway has been overlooked for generations, occupied mostly by distribution depots and small industrial estates.
Westfield, whose giant shopping mall started the regeneration ball rolling, has embarked on a £1 billion expansion project that includes 1,347 new homes and a John Lewis department store, creating 6,700 permanent new jobs.
Reading room: the Imperial West university campus will include a new square
St James, a developer whose residential schemes include high-priced apartments at Albert Embankment designed by starchitects Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, has started a community consultation over its plans to build hundreds of homes, a new public park and to improve “connectivity” by opening up railway arches to those more coveted neighbourhoods on the other side of the tracks.
Imperial College has started building a university campus, named Imperial West, which will be a world-class research and innovation centre. The 25-acre campus will straddle both sides of the A40, a key “townscaping” objective, and bring 11 new futuristic-looking buildings with up to 1,150 homes clustered around two public squares. Accommodation blocks for post-graduates are already complete.
Carving out The Crescent: Stanhope plans homes in five clusters of mansion block-style buildings looking over Hammersmith Park or a new courtyard
The BBC’s former HQ is also spawning many new homes. Stanhope’s goal is to “turn a private place into a public one by stitching the site back into the local area, with new landscaped routes through to Hammersmith Park and surrounding communities” — such as up-and-coming Shepherd’s Bush. Its residential plans include a string of mansion block-style buildings called The Crescent.
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A £500 million revamp of Television Centre will retain much of the original architecture including the famous “doughnut” building and the atomic dot wall and statue of Helios, while a new office block will incorporate the Soho House premises with its rooftop swimming pool and terrace. After the “intermission”, the BBC will return to the site, taking over three studios and post-production facilities.
“West London has a rich and varied tradition of creative talent and White City will be the beating heart of a revitalised creative quarter,” says Soho House founder Nick Jones.
Masterplan: a proposed new residential block designed by Duggan Morris and facing on to Hammersmith Park will replace old BBC restaurant
Traditionally, west London was the capital’s most affluent side, with headquarters for global corporations such as GlaxoSmithKline. The shift started with the rise of Canary Wharf and accelerated after Ken Livingstone became mayor in 2000. Thames Gateway was promoted as a priority regeneration zone, new creative clusters formed in Clerkenwell and Shoreditch, while east London got a rocket boost when Stratford was selected for the 2012 Olympics. However, property experts now tip cheaper west London areas to rise in price more than any other districts in the capital during the next five years.
The White City site is that of the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition as well as the summer Olympics and derived its name from the white marble cladding used on the exhibition pavilions. The stadium continued as an athletics venue for long after, and in the late Thirties, London county council built a huge housing estate on part of the exhibition grounds, while the BBC’s purpose-built Television Centre opened in 1960.
With Westfield came a new Tube station at Wood Lane plus a new Overground station, and the wider mayoral strategy is for White City to connect with other west London opportunity areas such as Kensal Canalside and 950-hectare Old Oak Common, which is earmarked for 24,000 homes and a transport super-hub. Queens Park Rangers Football Club is proposing a 40,000-seater stadium at Old Oak Common, which would free-up its Loftus Road ground bordering White City for redevelopment into homes.
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From £106, 875: for a quarter share of a flat at The Bloom, pictured, overlooking Wormholt Park. Call 020 8357 4444
This patch is a place to look for good-value homes — Victorian terraces and purpose-built Edwardian maisonettes. On Bloemfontein Road, which cuts straight through the neighbourhood, is a rare new-build scheme called The Bloom — 170 flats in colourful, contemporary-design low-rise blocks overlooking five-acre Wormholt Park and nature reserve. Two-bedroom flats are priced from £106,875 for a 25 per cent shared-ownership stake. Call Notting Hill Housing Trust on 020 8357 4444.