A new centre in the making

John Forrester, President of Cushman & Wakefield, spotlights Brent Cross Town as a new ‘centre’ in the making.

The last year’s events have accelerated our change in thinking about adjacencies when we consider the attraction of a place.

There are now other factors to consider beyond connections into a CBD; specifically, how a location connects orbitally to its neighbours, its links to clusters of knowledge and culture, and its ability to be both a good place to work and to live.

Rather than embracing a ‘hub and spoke’ model for London, it may be that we see a rise in outer borough places placing value on becoming more successful town centres, serving their residents better and supporting thriving local economies.

Brent Cross Town is an important example: the biggest regeneration in north London, it sits between central London and the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, linking into the city, into King’s Cross, and also outward towards both universities. It’s got all of the logistical advantages of connection and accessibility: the North Circular, the M1, the station and access to the underground. Most importantly of all, the site has the critical mass to create a new ‘how’: a new way of working and living in London. The scale of the site is an unusual opportunity in a city that is so highly developed and where ownership tends to be so fragmented. Argent Related can create excellence not just in one or two buildings, but across a significant estate. Control of the spaces in between provides the chance to plan and deliver a coherent regeneration, phased cleverly to establish a sense of place from as early on as possible.

Brent Cross Town is also immediately adjacent to an extremely rich diversity of community – and Argent Related is committed to a porosity of approach and to complementing what is already there. Whether living or working in a place, people cherish the feeling of integration with something established and something real. This place offers an alternative to the high-density central urban development we’ve become used to yet avoids the sometimes alienating ‘newness’ or single use of an out-of-centre campus, and we’re hearing loud and clear that businesses, in particular those with a focus on the wellbeing of their staff, want a new option.

When I think of Brent Cross, I think of some lungs. I picture an area that has air, has space, has sky, all the things you can’t get in the very congested traditional centre of London.

If an organisation wanted to move its entire campus of London operations in the next five years, you could possibly only achieve the vision of space and the lungs at Brent Cross. This is the right scheme at the right time. If we get this right, and Argent Related have an incredible track record in this respect, it will become an example of how London can replicate, in new development, its much-loved, established ‘villages’, new centres in their own right.