Regeneration Of West End Arches Gets Go-Ahead
Hammersmith & Fulham Council approved Transport for London’s plans to transform 31 disused railway arches into shops, galleries and community spaces. The arches are filled with rubbish and are inaccessible to the public, but architecture firm Fletcher Priest plans to create visual permeability in the area. The dual aspect spaces will link the Westfield Shopping Centre to the south with White City to the north and all of it will be accessible to pedestrians or bicyclists.
The Wood Lane Arches project will be completed in two phases. The first, due to be completed at the end of 2017 when the new John Lewis store on the Westfield site opens, will transform 13 arches near the Wood Lane tube station into retail use for restaurants and independent stores. Three arches will be opened up entirely to provide landscaped pedestrian routes. A second phase will deliver seven commercial arches and four new pedestrian routes.
Regenerating London’s old railway arches has become a potentially transformative source of space in a city with chronic space problems, and arches are not nearly as costly as traditional retail or office space. There are already successful arch projects in the city, including at Elephant & Castle and Flatiron Square, which is a live music venue and food market.
Speaking at Bisnow’s New Frontiers event in January, Southwark Council’s Peter John said the risk of undertaking a viaduct-and-arches project is not huge. A successful renovation requires patient, long-term money with an eye on the future. By finding innovative land uses, developers are transforming dark, dirty and forbidding spaces into community gathering spaces.