News

Keep up to date with the latest news about Rectory Farm.

Approval for Hounslow’s new public park

Aerial view showing CGI of Rectory Farm

7 July 2017

The largest new park in West London for more than 100 years has taken a major step towards being created in Hounslow after councilors last night [July 6 2017] approved a visionary proposal to extract minerals from underneath the currently disused land and create underground warehouse space, attracting thousands of jobs.

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It is hugely exciting to know these ambitious and visionary plans, overwhelmingly supported by local residents, have taken a massive step towards going ahead.

The large new public park will provide much needed recreational space linking local communities and will include full size grass and all-weather football pitches, hockey and cricket pitches, plus a variety of other facilities alongside fields and tree-lined paths for walking, running and cycling. Historically the 110 acres of green belt land was agricultural but has not been farmed since 1996 due to years of antisocial behavior, fly tipping, trespass, vandalism and concerns over food safety. Currently inaccessible to the public, the site will be transformed into an open and freely accessible park.

The mineral extraction will take place discreetly beneath the park’s surface through an innovative ‘top-down’ construction method, with the process contained below ground in contrast to open cast mining.

The site alongside The Parkway (A312) and Bath Road (A4) will deliver Hounslow’s share of minerals required by the London Plan. Some of the minerals will be used on-site to construct the up to 177,500 sqm of underground warehousing space.

Transforming the derelict site into a public park requires a reliable and continuous stream of funding. Letting the proposed subterranean warehouse space will assure that the park is developed and maintained in perpetuity. Together with the extraction and construction, this will attract new economic development to the area and provide up to 2,500 new jobs – including roles in the park’s delivery, management and maintenance.

The first areas of the new park will be available for the public’s enjoyment within 12 months of starting on site. Work is expected to begin in 2019 with the first area of the park opening in 2020 and the first underground warehouse space is expected to be available for businesses to use from 2022 during a 15 year period of extraction, construction and landscaping activity.

Recreational facilities have been developed in consultation with Hounslow Council’s leisure team as well as Sport England to respond to the strategic demand of the region. The development team will continue to liaise with residents who have suggested ideas for the park such as allotments, fenced dog area, a skate/BMX park and a running track.

The Rectory Farm project has been devised by a team of world-class consultants – including architect Carmody Groarke, development expert DP9, landscape architect VOGT, engineer ARUP and the recently added property and construction consultancy Gleeds.

Councillors on the planning committee unanimously approved the proposals submitted by the landowner, Formal Investments, which had been recommended by London Borough of Hounslow planning officers.

Formal Investments director Nicholas King said: “It is hugely exciting to know these ambitious and visionary plans, overwhelmingly supported by local residents, have taken a massive step towards going ahead.

“We have worked hard with Hounslow’s planners and councillors to get the proposals right, so that we can provide a local economic boost and give the people of Hounslow a tremendous legacy in the form of a new public park free for all to enjoy.

“With increasing worldwide demand for warehousing space close to and within cities, we believe Rectory Farm’s creative solution of putting such infrastructure underground whilst enhancing the surface environment could inspire similar approaches elsewhere.”

David Blackett, chairman of the Heston Residents Association, said: “This project, strongly supported by residents, will provide the local community with a new landscaped public park with attractive amenities, replacing an area of former farmland which has suffered the ravages of vandalism and anti-social behaviour for some 20 years. An additional benefit is the generation of up to 2,500 job opportunities.”

The project also aims to improve biodiversity. Gordon Scorer, CEO of London Wildlife Trust, said: “When done correctly, major developments such as Rectory Farm can bring huge benefits to local people, wildlife and nature, creating greener, healthier spaces within the capital. As this project moves forward we look forward to working with the team on this exciting and innovative project.”

Kevin Carmody, of Carmody Groarke, said: “As our global cities become increasingly urbanised, pressure on sourcing and distributing resources will undoubtedly grow accordingly.

“At the same time, architects and designers, investors and politicians, have the duty to meet these huge challenges with very localised strategies, to positively improve places that directly affect people’s lives.” 

Tristan McDonnell, director of Arup, said: “As engineers our challenge was to find a way to minimise disruption and make the park available to the community as quickly as possible. Together with Carmody Groarke, we’ve achieved this by applying top-down construction methods, commonly used for high rise buildings with deep basements.

“At Rectory Farm a structural roof slab and foundations will be installed to allow excavation and construction to progress discretely below ground. This method means the community won’t have to wait long to enjoy the largest park created in West London for 100 years.”

Approval recommended for Hounslow’s new park

29 June 2017

Formal Investments welcomes London Borough of Hounslow planning officers’ recommendation that councillors approve its proposal to create a large new public park as part of a process of underground mineral extraction linked to the creation of underground warehouse space.

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The plans have been widely consulted on, including with the Council’s Heston & Cranford Area Forum, with local politicians, nearby residents, community groups and the wider Hounslow community, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority.

The proposal is to extract gravel from beneath the surface of 110 acres of disused land which sits alongside The Parkway (A312) and Bath Road (A4) – commonly known as Rectory Farm.

The underground space created by the extraction will house 175,000 sqm of warehouse floorspace. Areas of the largest new park in West London for more than 100 years will be available for the public’s enjoyment within 12 months of starting on site. The whole project will generate around 2,500 new job opportunities.

Formal Investments director Nicholas King said: “We are pleased to have worked so constructively with Hounslow’s planners and look forward to the planning committee considering our exciting proposal to create both economic growth and a high quality green public space free for all to enjoy.

“The plans have been widely consulted on, including with the Council’s Heston & Cranford Area Forum, with local politicians, nearby residents, community groups and the wider Hounslow community, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority.”

“We thank everyone for their input, advice and suggestions to date and hope that those many partnerships can continue to flourish to create a tremendous legacy in the form of a new public park. We hope the planning committee looks favourably on our application.”

  In the media

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Plans in again for Hounslow's new public park

CGI showing underground of Rectory Farm

10 November 2016

Formal Investments have submitted proposals to the London Borough of Hounslow to create a large public park as part of a process of underground mineral extraction linked to the creation of warehouse space.

A video has been created explaining how the unique use of top down construction methods, instead of open cast mining, delivers the space and the park. It can be watched at: rectory-farm.com

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We were very excited to be back with this new application. We remain wholeheartedly committed to creating economic growth in the London Borough of Hounslow whilst giving local people a tremendous legacy of a public park, free to enjoy.

The proposals extract gravel from beneath the surface of 110 acres of disused land which sits alongside The Parkway (A312) and Bath Road (A4) - commonly known as Rectory Farm.

Using the underground space created by the gravel extraction to create c175,000 sq m of 9m high warehouse floorspace, it will create around 2,500 new job opportunities.

The London Borough of Hounslow has identified this part of Heston and Cranford as lacking in accessible public open space. Under the proposals areas of park will be available to the public within 12 months of starting on site.

The extracted gravel will help the London Borough of Hounslow contribute to the strategic demand identified in the London Plan for the capital to 2031. A proportion of the gravel will be retained on site to batch and distribute concrete to construction sites. And some of the concrete will be used to construct the underground warehouse space.

Similar proposals were rejected by the London Borough of Hounslow in 2015 because insufficient information had been provided to address some of the planning issues raised by the proposals. The intervening period has been used to ensure the current submission now addresses these issues in full.

The plans have already been widely consulted on, including with the Council’s Heston & Cranford Area Forum, with Seema Malhotra MP and local Councillors, nearby residents, community groups and the wider Hounslow community, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority.

A public consultation questionnaire generated 664 responses that were overwhelmingly positive:

  • 96.6% believe the area needs a new park
  • 97.2% want the land turned into a public park rather than returned to farmland after extraction
  • 95.7% approve or strongly approve of the proposals for the project overall
  • 96.4% approve or strongly approve of the improved pathways linking communities
  • 95.8% approve or strongly approve of the new employment the project will bring

The largest new park in West London for more than 100 years will create for opportunities for active recreation, sport and leisure activities. It would link existing green corridors and promote health and wellbeing.

Asked what activities and facilities they would like to see in the new park, more than half of respondents said a children’s play area, cycle paths, an exercise trail, free running, football pitches and tennis courts. Other popular suggestions included community allotments, a cricket pitch, fenced dog area, a skate park and a running track.

Formal Investments director Nicholas King said: “We were very excited to be back with this new application. We remain wholeheartedly committed to creating economic growth in the London Borough of Hounslow whilst giving local people a tremendous legacy of a public park, free to enjoy.”

Further information and the video about the project can be found at rectory-farm.com

Have your say on Hounslow’s proposed park

Rectory Farm

June 2016

The team behind proposals for a public park at Cranford and Heston is asking the people of Hounslow to give their views on the project that will deliver the largest new park in London for over 100 years and up to 2,500 direct jobs.

The London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) planners refused permission in 2015 after four years of discussion with developer Formal Investments and its team of architects, landscapers and engineers who are preparing to resubmit the application at the end of July.

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“We were disappointed last year. But we have tackled the areas of concern – including vehicle access and noise – and believe we can overcome any issues whilst remaining committed to giving local people a tremendous legacy of a public park, free for all to enjoy.”

The refreshed proposal addresses the concerns previously expressed by the LBH planning officers and was presented to the Council’s Heston & Cranford Area Forum on January 21.

Formal Investments’ Managing Director Nicholas King said: “We were disappointed last year. But we have tackled the areas of concern – including vehicle access and noise – and believe we can overcome any issues whilst remaining committed to giving local people a tremendous legacy of a public park, free for all to enjoy.”

Rectory Farm (the redundant farmland alongside The Parkway between High Street, Cranford and the Waggonners Roundabout) lies above a huge reserve of gravel which is much needed for the construction of London’s schools, hospitals, roads and homes.

The proposal is to extract the gravel by the use of the ‘sealed top-down construction’ method which will minimise the impacts on local residents compared to traditional open-cast mining. On the surface a new park would be created for recreation, sport, community gardens, orchards and leisure activities such as cycling and walking. It would link existing green corridors and promote health and wellbeing.

Beneath the surface, in the void left by removing the gravel, warehouses will be built bringing inward investment and new jobs. It is estimated the development will generate between 1,870 - 2,540 direct jobs.

Following a successful consultation event at the Brabazon Estate Community Centre on 12 June, the team will be at the Treaty Centre this Friday and Saturday (1st and 2nd July) from 9am to 5.30pm to hear your views on the proposals, to answer your questions and to find out what activities you would like to see in the park.

Nicholas King said: “We are very keen to engage with a large number of local people to hear their views on the proposals and to learn what they would like to see included into the planned park.”

Hounslow’s new public park proposal to return

Aerial photo with outline showing the park from the air

January 2016

The team behind a new public park for Cranford and Heston is returning with a new application and wants the Hounslow public to give their views on the creation of 110 acres of parkland open to all.

The plan is to extract gravel from beneath the surface of the disused land alongside The Parkway known as Rectory Farm. By creating underground warehousing in the space left by the extraction, and covered by parkland, significant numbers of new jobs would be created.

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“We are very keen to again engage with a large number of local people to hear their views on the proposals and to learn what they would like to see included into the planned park.”

Parkland would be created from day one and available for the public’s use throughout the phased project and into the future. The gravel would meet Hounslow’s share of the London Plan total for aggregates needed for construction in the capital to 2031.

The London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) planners refused permission in 2015 after four years of discussion with developer Formal Investments and its team of architects, landscapers and engineers.

The new proposal addresses the concerns previously expressed by the LBH planning officers and it was presented to the Council’s Heston & Cranford Forum on January 21 2016. Council officers, councillors and community representatives were shown images of the proposed park and talked through the refreshed plan.

Ahead of the new application, expected to be submitted during the spring, the team is to consult again with councillors, the local MP, the public and other stakeholders. The original proposals, first submitted in 2013, were backed by an overwhelming majority of the public in wide-ranging consultations.

The proposal is to extract much needed gravel by the use of the ‘sealed top-down construction’ method which, compared to traditional open-cast mining, will minimise the impacts on local residents.

On the surface, the largest new park in West London for more than 100 years would be created for recreation, sport, community gardens, orchards and leisure activities such as cycling and walking. It would link existing green corridors and promote health and wellbeing.

Formal Investments’ Managing Director Nicholas King said: “We were disappointed last year. But we have tackled the areas of concern – including vehicle access and noise – and believe we can overcome any issues whilst remaining committed to giving local people a tremendous legacy of a public park free for all to enjoy.”

In 2012-13 more than 350 questionnaires were completed, with the great majority of people supportive – 97.5% liked the idea of a new park, 94.6% wanted the land turned into a public park rather than returned to farming after gravel extraction and 79.5% would walk, cycle or get a bus to the new park.

Nicholas said: “We are very keen to again engage with a large number of local people to hear their views on the proposals and to learn what they would like to see included into the planned park.”

Council not playing ball over new park

Render showing how the new park will look - people strolling down a path

April 2014

Hounslow council planners have refused planning permission for a new public park for Cranford and Heston.

It is a huge disappointment for Formal Investments and its team of architects, landscapers and engineers. They had spent the last three years developing the proposal which were backed by an overwhelming majority of the public following wide-ranging consultations.

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“Clearly we are very disappointed. Before we make a full response we need to fully review the council’s decision.”

The plan involved extracting gravel from beneath the surface of the disused, land known as Rectory Farm, by the use of the established ‘sealed top-down construction’ method which, compared to traditional open-cast mining, will minimise the impacts on local residents.

Gravel would be taken from beneath the surface and subterranean warehouse space constructed in the resulting voids which would be available for storage and other activities, creating a significant number of new jobs.

On the surface, a new 110 acre public park would be created alongside The Parkway at Cranford and Heston – the largest new park in West London for more than 100 years.

Formal Investments director Nicholas King said: “Clearly we are very disappointed. Before we make a full response we need to fully review the council’s decision.

“The intention was – and remains – to give local people the tremendous legacy of a public park that would be free to enjoy, with paths for walking and cycling, sports pitches, communal gardens, meadows and much more.

“Over the last three years, an immense amount of work has gone into exploring how the much needed aggregates could be extracted with minimal impact on neighboring communities.

“Our extensive and open public consultations engaged a huge number of local people and their representatives and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“We hope to be able to keep the dream of this new park alive and to give people in Hounslow the good news they have long been waiting for.”

More than 350 initial questionnaires were completed, with the great majority of people supportive of the plans – 97.5% liked the idea of a new park, 94.6% wanted the land turned into a public park rather than returned to farming after the gravel is.

New public park decision eagerly awaited

Render image showing people walking on a path in the new park.

September 2016

The team behind proposals for a new public park in Cranford and Heston are eagerly awaiting a decision from the borough’s planning department.

The proposals, backed by an overwhelming majority of the public in wide-ranging consultations, were submitted to the London Borough of Hounslow in March. It is understood the application will be put to the planning committee at its meeting in September.

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“We are hopeful of a positive decision and look forward to starting work as soon as possible. Our aim is to open the park to the public within 18 months of work commencing.”

If approved, the 110 acre park alongside The Parkway at Cranford and Heston will be the largest new park to be created in West London for more than 100 years.

The application is to create a fabulous new park and to extract gravel from beneath the surface by the use of an established method known as ‘sealed top-down construction’ which will minimise the impacts of traditional mining.

The gravel will be taken from beneath the surface and subterranean warehouse space constructed in the resulting voids. This space will be made available for use by organisations and businesses for storage and other activities, creating significant employment.

There’s still time for people to write to or email the council to tell them why they support a new park in Hounslow. Further information can be found at www.rectory-farm.com which includes a link to the full planning documents.

Public's views sought on new park plan

People talking about the proposals

April 2013

The team behind proposals for a new public park in Cranford and Heston are eagerly awaiting a decision from the borough’s planning department.

The proposals, backed by an overwhelming majority of the public in wide-ranging consultations, were submitted to the London Borough of Hounslow in March. It is understood the application will be put to the planning committee at its meeting in September.

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“We are hopeful of a positive decision and look forward to starting work as soon as possible. Our aim is to open the park to the public within 18 months of work commencing”

Project manager Richard Jones, said: “We are delighted the proposals are going before the committee. We have worked very hard with the council to resolve all issues raised and address comments received from the public consultations before and after the plans were submitted.

If approved, the 110 acre park alongside The Parkway at Cranford and Heston will be the largest new park to be created in West London for more than 100 years.

The application is to create a fabulous new park and to extract gravel from beneath the surface by the use of an established method known as ‘sealed top-down construction’ which will minimise the impacts of traditional mining.

The gravel will be taken from beneath the surface and subterranean warehouse space constructed in the resulting voids. This space will be made available for use by organisations and businesses for storage and other activities, creating significant employment.

There’s still time for people to write to or email the council to tell them why they support a new park in Hounslow. Further information can be found at www.rectory-farm.com which includes a link to the full planning documents.

Park proposals submitted to council

Aerial shot of Rectory Farm

March 2013

A new public park in Cranford and Heston moved a step closer today (27 March 2013) when the planning application was submitted to the London Borough of Hounslow.

Backed by an overwhelming majority of the public in wide ranging consultations, the 110 acre park - the largest new park to be created in West London for more than 100 years - is proposed for disused land known as Rectory Farm, north of Bath Road (A4) and east of The Parkway (A312).

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The consultation events were very popular and we thank everyone for their many views and suggestions

The application details plans to create a impressive new park and to extract gravel from beneath the surface. The proposed ‘sealed top-­down construction’ method will minimise the impacts of traditional mining.

The gravel will be taken from beneath the surface and subterranean warehouse space constructed in the resulting voids. The underground spaces,for use by organisations and businesses for storage and other activities, creating significant employment.

Local people have given their views on the plans at a series of public meetings and briefings over many months at community centres, Cranford Community College and The Treaty Centre.