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Spatial planning helps flagship urban regeneration

A coordinated spatial plan is behind one of Europe’s biggest urban regeneration projects, the £15 billion Nine Elms project on London’s South Bank. Programme Director, Helen Fisher explains the role of location intelligence.

Helen Fisher, Nine Elms Programme Director

Less than a mile upstream from the Houses of Parliament, work is well underway on the transformation of 195 hectares of prime brownfield land into a vibrant new residential, business and cultural quarter. Nine Elms on the South Bank, a roughly triangular space lying between Battersea Park and Lambeth Bridge, is the largest regeneration zone in central London and the last remaining industrial stretch of the South Bank to be redeveloped. The interactive map on the project website shows 20 interconnected development sites encompassing residential, commercial, mixed use, transport and community uses.

Fisher says years of detailed planning and design work have informed the land use strategy which, once implemented, will deliver 18,000 new homes, up to 25,000 new jobs and more than 0.5 million square metres of business space. There will be a new United States Embassy, a rejuvenated Battersea Power Station and two new tube stops on a Northern Line extension. A cluster of tall towers is being planned in Vauxhall, while the New Covent Garden Market will be reconfigured as the ‘garden heart’ of the area, anchoring cultural identity around fruit, vegetable and flower market operations.

Nine Elms project

The spatial plan for Nine Elms and Vauxhall, the Opportunity Area Planning Framework, was developed by the Greater London Authority, working closely with Wandsworth and Lambeth Councils, Transport for London, and the major landowners and developers. It was formally adopted in 2012. All these stakeholders set up a public-private sector partnership, whose job is to drive forward delivery of the vision and plan for the area.

"Our spatial plan has been designed to address the delivery of new infrastructure and how best to realise the optimum development potential, balancing a range of different requirements and uses," says Fisher. "The plan sets out the location and scale of infrastructure needed to make the area a success – from new tube stations on the Northern Line, to a new linear park stretching from Battersea Power Station to schools and health facilities. Lack of accessibility is a key issue and our plan identifies how we will improve linkages in and out – as well as through – the area."

As for other large priority infrastructure projects such as London 2012, Ordnance Survey data capture has been intensified in Nine Elms to support the regeneration. Updates on the size, position, use and history of land parcels together with detail on other landscape and transport features is collected by on the ground survey and aerial photography. Ordnance Survey consultants have also been working with the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership to show how detailed and definitive geospatial data available through the Public Sector Mapping Agreement can help inform the timeline of development through ongoing analysis and intelligence.

Fisher adds: "Sites are at different stages of development, but underpinning all of the work is the need for strategic planning within the overall planning development framework. While the framework encourages innovation and creativity within sites, there is a robust set of planning parameters, which need to be complied with to ensure that the area works as a whole place. Spatial planning is key to understanding that level of detail."

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