PROJECT FOCUS LONDON TRANSPORT
GOOD TRANSPORT PLANNING IS ESSENTIAL TO MAKE SURE THAT ANY DEVELOPMENT IS ACCESSIBLE FOR AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE
Ian Liddell Head of Development Planning
beyond. “The Stratford city site is right next door to the Olympic village, pretty much part of the Olympic Park,” he says. “We’ve been working closely with the Olympic Delivery Authority to deliver a temporary plan for the run up – having lorries, buses and thousands of cars driving through the world’s biggest security zone is a major logistical challenge.”
The masterplan for Stratford City had achieved planning permission before the Olympics rolled into east London, so one of WSP's greatest tasks was adapting the original development. “It’s effectively a new project,” says Pullen. “There’s been a lot of integration, and we’ve worked closely with three local councils – Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest – throughout.”
Of course, Westfield will be no mere shopping centre. As well as more than 300 shops, the £1.45bn development will have 50 restaurants and bars, the UK’s largest casino and a 17-screen
cinema, which means that its open streets will be buzzing from early in the morning to late at night. There will be 5,000 car parking spaces across the scheme, a new bus station with 18 bays, a link to the new underground station and high- speed rail services next door, and “exceptional” cycle facilities too.
This is one of the most significant differences between Stratford City and other retail projects. “Most of the shopping centres we’ve worked on up to now have been heavily reliant on the private car,” says Pullen. “Our target has been to create a full multimodal scheme, so it’s accessible by public transport and there are a lot of pedestrian connections to the surrounding area too. Shopping centres can be a bit of an island surrounded by big roads, but we want to make public transport a central part of the overall masterplan.
“There will lots of long-term benefits for the area, and it’s
really good to be a part of that legacy.”
Pullen’s team have also given a great deal of thought to the vital parts that the public won’t see – the delivery networks that will keep the retailers and restaurants supplied. There will be three goods yards under Westfield Stratford City itself – challenging to design because of the manoeuvring paths of large lorries.
“You can’t have columns all over the place,” Pullen says. “We used the Auto Track programme to drive vehicles around the architect’s plans to show that it was viable.”
WSP’s strategy also includes a consolidation facility outside Stratford, to reduce traffic to the site – and to maximise lettable retail floor area. “That means there is more room for shops and greater value for the client.”
One of the things that Pullen knows will make a big difference
to the success of the shopping centre is the parking. For Westfield at White City in west London, WSP specified a much- praised system that flags up empty spaces and tells drivers how many are available in each aisle. For Stratford City, shoppers will be able to key in their registration number to find out exactly where their car is parked. Another simple but important detail will be unique numbers for aisles on different floors.
“With 5,000 car parking spaces, some people are going to lose their cars,” explains Pullen. “If we can assist them, that will make a big difference. People remember bad car parks. If you can’t get a space or you can’t open your door because there’s a column in the way, you won’t go there again. The car park is the front door to the centre, so it’s really key that we get that right.”
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