A £150m not-for-profit regeneration scheme bringing improved community facilities, new affordable homes and an innovative education hub to White City in west London is to begin this month following approval of an agreement between Ark, a national education charity, and Hammersmith & Fulham Council (H&F).
The plans include the building of a new primary school, nursery and adult education centre, as well as a state-of-the-art youth zone and 132 affordable homes. A modern office building will become the future home of Ark and other organisations.
Work will begin this month on what has been known as the EdCity scheme following a pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will regenerate the site between South Africa Road and Australia Road and include:
- a new building for Ark Swift Primary Academy with state-of-the art IT and modern classrooms, and access to a range of sports and performing arts facilities;
- 132 new council-owned affordable homes for local people;
- a new building for Harmony Nursery to increase capacity to 75 children;
- a new OnSide Youth Zone providing sporting, creative and social activities and opportunities for local young people;
- an expanded adult education and community learning centre providing training and life-long learning opportunities for local residents;
- a new 100,000 sq ft office space for up to 1,000 jobs and a new permanent home for Ark and other organisations and businesses;
- a new landscaped public square with a pedestrian and cycle route, directly linking residential areas to the redeveloped White City business and transport hubs.
H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan said:
“This project will bring tangible benefits to the local community with a new school and nursery, a youth zone and improved adult education services. There will be new, affordable homes for local people, improvements to public areas and jobs will be relocated here. Partnerships are a central feature of our Industrial Strategy benefiting this previously-neglected part of the borough, so I am delighted we can now get this work under way.”
Ark CEO Lucy Heller said:
“These exciting plans will bring significant improvements to education provision in White City, including a new modern building for pupils at Ark Swift primary school. Alongside other community facilities, the scheme will also provide a new home for Ark to support our work with schools and ventures across the country and to foster collaboration with other organisations working in the wider education system.”
Mark Davies, Chair of WEST Youth Zone, said:
“It’s fantastic that we can now progress with this exciting development, and I am delighted that WEST Youth Zone will be a part of it. Once open, the Youth Zone will provide all young people of the borough with an amazing facility where they can take part in a wide range of activities, make new friends and gain support from our team of dedicated youth workers.”
The office building will provide highly efficient Grade A space designed to a BREEAM rating of “Excellent”. Two floors are pre-let to Ark and its partner organisations with a further 80,000 sq ft available to rent.
The development will be carried out in two phases with initial works starting this month. Demolition will take place during the summer and autumn. The new school, youth zone and office will be open in the second half of 2023 as well as some of the new homes. The remaining changes will be fully completed in 2025.
The plans have been developed following local consultation and final planning approval was granted in 2020. The funding agreements were approved by H&F’s Cabinet on 5 July 2021. The scheme is jointly funded by the Ark charity and H&F and is supported by grants from central government and the GLA.