West London Chambers of Commerce, which represents small businesses across Hounslow, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham has held a Regeneration Conference covering the three boroughs.
The afternoon conference, at Brentford’s Holiday Inn, saw presentations from borough representatives as well as property developers, educational establishments and service industry companies covering Hounslow, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham.
It was an opportunity for delegates to find out first hand what is going on across the boroughs, opportunities that are being created and what the vision and direction being set are by Hounslow Council, Ealing Council and Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
Phil Cresswell, executive director of Regeneration and Housing at London Borough of Hounslow started the proceedings.
Mr Creswell said: “We’re committed to building thriving liveable neighbourhoods that work for everybody. My role principally is to foster collaboration between communities, partners and business to make that happen. Creating that shared vision for a sustainable resilient, network future for the better. And you all got a big role to play in that. We can’t do it alone. It’s very much a partnership. It’s very much working together to create that greater sense of place. This is a great opportunity for us all to learn from each other in terms of those strategies and models and achieving sustainability with regeneration at the heart of what we do.
“Taking something that is no longer fit for purpose will need energy put into it which is what regeneration is all about. Events like this, give us a chance to talk about all of those things. We need to work together to find those solutions to bring forward. We know we need to work with you on many levels. To develop and deliver a leadership role. We believe that communities must lead and not be passive in the solutions that are combining vision for unique places will drive the action to build a greater economy with greater resilience. And we’ll do that in terms of looking at longer term transformation, creation of vibrant, healthy connected places. Talk about 15 minute neighbourhoods or low carbon neighbourhoods that’s really critical, isn’t it?
“We’ve got developments that actually connect to the social and physical infrastructure that people need in their lives. They can walk and cycle, get the bus or train or whatever it is that they need to transport in real electric vehicle to get into that 15 minute neighbourhood and live long, healthy lives with local employment.”
Connor McDonagh, assistant director of economic growth, Ealing Council said:
Mr McDonagh said: “There’s three strategic objectives that we’re working on at the moment. So it’s creating new jobs. So it’s all about 10,000 new jobs and ensuring those jobs are spread evenly across the seven towns. We’ve got a target of 4000 genuinely affordable homes, to be delivered within the borough. We need to work in partnership with our public sector bodies, plus some of our big businesses and bigger developers as well to help us do that and it’s good to see some of those here today.
“Ealing I think was also one of the first councils in the country to declare a climate emergency by confronting it. Recently, we produced the climate action strategy in 2020, and we’re actually refreshing it at the moment.
“And fighting inequality as well. So we’re so lucky to have such a diverse borough, but there’s lots of persisting inequalities within that as well, particularly within our communities around Southall and Northolt. So this is the vison that all of us officers are working very hard to achieve. This is our work programme in many ways.
“Another key thing for Ealing and perhaps this is shared with other West London boroughs particularly Hounslow and Hammersmith & Fulham, it’s an outer London borough that has its own strengths in terms of economy. So we want folk coming from central London to live and work in Ealing, not the other way around.”
“There’s lots of opportunities. Let’s shift the emphasis away from East London, away from central and out to West London. That’s where the future of the economy is. I think everybody would agree in this room hopefully.”
David Pack, strategic head industrial strategy, Hammersmith & Fulham Council
Mr Pack said: “It really is about ambition. It’s about building the best place in business in Europe to do business but quite crucially, with an angle of ensuring that for our residents as well.
“The driving principle behind our innovation district at White City something called the triple helix of innovation. This concept of government in our case, primarily local government, academia for us Imperial College and the business community working together to really drive forward how innovations are delivered on the ground.
“The administration’s ambitions is to be a global economic hotspot. By lots of measures we already are, but there’s still an aspiration to reach out and make international links more effectively. But quite crucially, underpinning all of this is the idea of inclusion. And this represents opportunities for all our residents.
“We have launched the White City innovation district as a brand, it’s not formally an entity yet but we’re on due course to be. That’s really the front page of our offer to the world as it were, the growing cluster in and around White City that we see primarily focused on life sciences, but with a big dose of creativite, media and tech. It’s a pretty unique mixture in lots of ways.
“The past five years, there have been an additional 6,500 new jobs created. They’re all what we would describe as high value, high productivity and small startup, scaler and larger businesses. It really does underline Hammersmith & Fulham as being a place where new jobs are being created.
“Yes, we need to build bridges in for our residents, absolutely. We’re nowhere near there yet but we have a great opportunity on our doorstep.
“Similarly in the investment front as well. We do like like to shout about this quite a lot. There’s been upwards of £5 billion of growth investment going into businesses within the borough over the past five years. And by our reckoning, that’s about 75% of the total across the West London geography, probably speaking to the kinds of sectors we have but but quite impressive nonetheless. There’s lots of research based investments as well through UK research investments.
So what that really leaves us with and you’ll see I’ve used the acronym stem with three M’s. You probably see science, tech, engineering and math quite commonly used but our leader insists we use at least two other m’s being medicine and media.
“There’s a lot of work underway internationally. We signed a memorandum of understanding with the 22@ Innovation District in Barcelona last year. Again, the first of its kind between two authorities focusing very specifically on sharing good practice on innovation, what we can do, how we can improve the landing experiences for big businesses wanting to locate here and similarly want to confirm those from Hammersmith & Fulham and further wanting to do business in Spain and elsewhere in Europe. But also sharing how we’ve grown our respective clusters knowing that the systems are quite distinctly different. And actually, we’ve also been invited as one of only two UK members to be founders of something called the Global Innovation Districts Alliance launched online in March in Barcelona, and launched formally in Luxembourg in the autumn.
“And that really plays to our sense that we need to be working with the best in the world on these areas and looking at where we can both share good practice and also look at attracting investment into the borough through through those means as well.
“Inclusion, as I mentioned, is absolutely essential. We know that young people, schools, people with an interest in STEM don’t always come to the places where these activities are undertaken often behind closed doors. So we’ve worked with Imperial extensively to take this out to the community working with schools, and working with families to really bang the drum for the kinds of career prospects that they can see in these sectors.
“We also do a lot of work ourselves through adult learning. We have our own adult learning provision within Hammersmith and Fulham and we’re looking very much at pivoting that towards growth and the kinds of jobs that we know are coming and how we can ensure our residents benefit.
“This is absolutely central to what we’re doing. And I think our politicians quite rightly would say we’ve done a lot to achieve the growth and to ensure it’s there. We’re not quite there with inclusion. There’s a lot more to do because that will be the focus of our refreshed industrial strategy as and when we come to pushing that out later this year.”