Argent Related has unveiled its vision for a new London ‘park town’ ‘where we can all flourish’ – the £5bn, 180-acre north London neighbourhood now called Brent Cross Town.
The developer hopes the scheme will establish a new standard for large-scale urban regeneration, support the changing demands of modern life in a post-Covid world and contribute to London’s green economic recovery, with a ‘flourishing index’ to ensure all its targets are being met.
Nick Searl, Partner of Argent Related and Joint-Lead for Brent Cross Town, said that this was an exciting moment for the firm and its partners at Barnet Council. ‘After several years of careful thought and planning it’s a real privilege to set out our vision for Brent Cross Town, a park town that will support the future of London’, he said. ‘We will demand the highest commitments to health and wellbeing, sustainability and ensuring flourishing and connected communities – which will be measured with our pioneering Flourishing Index. With so many aspects of our society undergoing change, we will strive to ensure that Brent Cross Town meets the evolving needs of people, business and the environment.”
Previously known as Brent Cross South, the new development incorporates 50 acres of parks and playing fields which Argent Related believes are central to the attraction for people to live, work and visit. Brent Cross Town will deliver 6,700 new homes for sale and for rent and will be ‘a major new office destination’. With 3m sq ft of office space, it will create a ‘business ecosystem’ for 25,000 employees, ‘offering purpose, flexibility and competitive advantage to like-minded organisations, from a broad spectrum of sectors, to come together in one amazing location’.
The scheme will also be a new hub in the capital for ‘state-of-the-art sports and leisure facilities’ and include restaurants, retail including local amenities and services, leisure, culture and events. It will also meet the needs of students with student accommodation and the redevelopment of three local schools. The town centre will connect to King’s Cross in 12 minutes via the new Brent Cross West station, which will be completed by end of 2022.
Argent Related is also making four key pledges for Brent Cross Town:
• To create the place in London to participate in sport and play: with 150,000 sq ft of indoor facilities and 50 acres of parks, Brent Cross Town will provide the best of both traditional and emerging sports, working with leading sports organisations, governing bodies and hero ambassadors to help drive female participation and champion diversity and inclusion.
• To make a new North London town where all can flourish. Brent Cross Town will launch a Flourishing Index which will pioneer the measurement of how individuals and communities flourish in a town centre. Partnering with Manchester University and Buro Happold, this approach represents a landmark moment in designing a development for mental health and wellbeing and demonstrates that Brent Cross Town is at the forefront of people-centred design.
• To be a net zero carbon town by 2030 at the latest. This will be achieved by driving down the embodied carbon in buildings and infrastructure, the carbon used in energy supply and offsetting the remainder. Partnering with Vattenfall, Brent Cross Town will deliver reliable and affordable zero carbon heating to homes, shops and businesses.
• To strengthen existing connections, both locally and into Central London; connecting businesses, customers, friends and family. Brent Cross Town is in an enviable location – 12 minutes to Central London, immediate access to the M1 and 5 major airports within one hour. Locally, new pedestrian and cycle routes will integrate Brent Cross Town with its surrounding communities.
With what Argent Related branded ‘seismic societal shifts underway’, and as a ‘people-led developer’, it commissioned Copa, an insights agency, to conduct independent research with industry experts and 3,000 UK residents to help ensure it continually responds to its customer’s needs. Its ‘Parks, Proximity and People: A Flourishing Future for Towns’ research identified four consumer and business trends:
The first of these is the desire for the 15-Minute Town. Based on the principle that the places you work, shop, play and learn should all be within 15-minutes from where you live, the 15-Minute Town is rapidly gaining traction in places as different as Paris and Bradford, said the developer. A desire to live life more locally, engage more with our diverse communities and reduce travel, has been ‘hugely accelerated’ by the pandemic, it went on, prior to which over 80% of UK residents were travelling more than 15 minutes for work, hobbies and socializing and significantly longer in London.
A taste of hyperlocal life has given people the appetite for more, with close to 60% of people agreeing that lockdown has enhanced their love of their immediate area. Nearly 70% of people found the idea of a 15-Minute Town appealing with the top two reasons being to reduce their environmental impact and to support local businesses. The top five amenities people wanted in their 15-Minute Town are: a supermarket; transport connections; natural green space; parks and restaurants.
The second trend, says Argent Related, is the Desire to Flourish. Social inequalities magnified under the pandemic brought out people’s altruistic side. 60% of UK residents were worried about their own health, yet 80% were concerned for the society as a whole. 80% of respondents agreed that where you live is vital to your health and wellbeing and 72% think that new towns should be built with a view to helping their inhabitants to flourish.
Re-thinking Work and Place is the third trend. Although people’s experience of working from home has largely been positive, said Argent Related, they have faced significant challenges and have missed the office for its social aspects: they have missed their colleagues. It is predicted that the new hybrid will be home, office and the third space, with the role of the office being primarily to drive collaboration, innovation and people development. While 71% of people want to see more homeworking in the future, 52% have missed going to the office and are looking forward to returning and 63% of people want to live closer to work.
The fourth and final trend is 360-degree Environmental Lives. 75% of people believe climate change is real (8% do not agree). As a result, people want and expect change in corporate behaviour. The research showed 70% of people want the companies and organisations that look after local amenities to support them in leading more environmentally friendly lives.
Ken Wong, COO and Director of International Development, Related, said, “By combining our global development experience and local insights, Argent Related will set new standards of urban regeneration on this scale. We are establishing an ambition for a thriving new town centre that will both inspire and pioneer future ways of living and working and, importantly, one that will stand the test of time and the market’s cycles.”
Finally, Councillor Daniel Thomas, Leader of Barnet Council, said: ‘Brent Cross Town will ensure our new and existing communities thrive. The protection and enhancement of acres of existing green space provides the unique opportunity to create an area that has health, wellbeing and sustainability at the heart of its design. Brent Cross Town is the most ambitious development project the borough has ever seen, and it comes at a time where the coronavirus has changed the way we think, feel and what we want from the place we call home; we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to respond to changing needs and attitudes and build a place that is truly fit for the future.”
Construction of the new Brent Cross West station is underway and will be completed by 2022; it is anticipated that the first phase of homes and offices will be occupied from 2024.