Approval for Hounslow warehousing under new park

Rectory Farm

Friday 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.

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.”

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.”

The property agents working as part of the Rectory Farm team are Savills and CBRE.

Samantha Smith, senior director at CBRE, said: “We are thrilled to be involved in such a massively pioneering project that will establish a new concept in the UK for a new resource for urban logistics.

“Whilst there is a lot of interest in multi-storey, multi-level warehousing development, Rectory Farm’s underground approach is exactly right for its location. It will be the biggest such speculative development within the M25 and its technical and operational aspects are already proven at existing locations in other parts of the world.”

Bridget Outtrim, director at Savills, said: “Rectory Farm offers a pioneering and innovative solution to the shortage of industrial space inside the M25. Its key feature is its unique combination of quantum of developable space and close proximity to West London’s growing population.”

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.”

Further information about the project can be found at


  • Illustrations of aerial views of the park
  • a plan showing its location in West London
  • top down construction diagram

Press enquiries:

About Formal Investments:

Formal Investments Ltd is a private investment and asset management company with proven high standards. With UK headquarters in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, it has an excellent track record in investment and development throughout the UK, primarily in the office and warehouse/distribution sectors. Formal Investments has owned Rectory Farm since 2003 and has been working on this application since 2009 when the idea of a ‘top down’ solution to minerals extraction was conceived. It is strongly committed to delivering the benefits of the proposal to the borough of Hounslow.

About Carmody Groarke:

Carmody Groarke is a London-based architectural studio of 40 staff, established by Kevin Carmody and Andy Groarke in 2006. Since its formation the practice has gained a strong reputation for working internationally on a wide range of arts, cultural, heritage and residential projects, both new build and within the context of historic buildings. The work spans a range of timescales from temporary pavilions to permanent memorials.

Completed projects include the new Architecture Gallery at the RIBA Grade II* listed headquarters, the permanent memorial to the 7 July London bombings, Frieze (London) Art Fair 2011-2013, Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre Clatterbridge Merseyside, an artist studio for sculptor Antony Gormley and a contemporary gallery for White Cube at Glyndebourne.

Current projects include a 20-storey hotel tower in Westminster, currently at planning stage, a new build Museum on the lakeshore on Windermere in the Lake District National Park that will be completed later this year, major renovations for the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester and the new Members’ Room at the V&A.

A strong emphasis is given to a critical design process; Carmody Groarke resists predetermining architectural solutions to a client’s brief prior to a thorough investigation of each project’s unique situation. This process results in buildings and spaces that maintain a close synthesis between the context of the project and the client’s requirements.

Carmody Groarke has won many of their projects through open international architectural competitions including the 7 July Memorial, the Windermere Jetty Museum, the Dorset County Museum, the Members’ Room at the V&A and most recently the Special Exhibition Gallery at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Since establishment the studio has been recognised by architectural awards including Civic Trust Regional and AJ Small Projects Awards, the Building Design ‘Young Architect of the Year Award’ (YAYA), the Architectural Review ‘Emerging Architecture Award’, and the D&AD ‘Yellow Pencil’ Awards for Spatial Design and Exhibition Design. Our projects have also received several RIBA National, Regional and Special Awards, including most recently a Regional Award for a new build private house in Highgate, North London.

The first monograph of the practice was recently published in the Spanish periodical, 2G and an issue of El Croquis is planned for later this year.

About Arup:

Arup is the creative force at the heart of many of the world’s most prominent projects in the built environment and across industry. From 92 offices in 40 countries our 13,000 planners, designers, engineers and consultants deliver innovative projects across the world with creativity and passion.

About DP9:

DP9 was established in April 2004 as a specialist planning consultancy practice and is based at 100 Pall Mall, London, SW1. The practice now has 27 Directors and over 70 professional staff.  The practice advocates a commercial approach to planning matters, seeking to resolve issues through negotiation.  This approach is based on accumulated experience and skill, with the Directors having built up over 200 years of professional experience in planning and development.  DP9 is consequently the market leader for major developments in the capital. The practice is currently handling over 500 active projects for retained and new clients in the private and public sectors, advising on over 50,000,000 sqft of residential, commercial, office and retail development.

DP9 has been appointed on many of the most significant projects in the capital over the last decade. This includes leading on major mixed use residential, office and retail schemes at Battersea Power Station/Nine Elms, Earls Court, Elephant and Castle and Paddington Basin.

About Vogt:

Vogt Landscape Architects Ltd. was established on the basis of the former Kienast Vogt Partners company on 1 October, 2000. Currently, a staff of fty employees works at their of ces in Zurich, Berlin and London developing national and international projects of all sizes on the basis of thorough analysis of the place and a speci c model based design method. Nature is the subject matter and medium of the practice’s daily work. Based on the task in hand and the speci c context of the site, programmes and concepts are developed to establish an interdisciplinary dialogue with architects, artists and planners.

About Gleeds:

Gleeds is an international property and construction consultancy with over 130 years’ experience in the property and construction industry. With 1,600 dedicated staff across six continents and 65 offices, Gleeds prides itself on being a global business that is structured to act and think locally.

Working with clients in almost every sector, Gleeds services the entire project lifecycle and categorises its offering into the following core areas: programme and project management, commercial and contract management, property and asset management and advisory.