From notorious crime-ridden blackspot – to mixed community, spurring the regeneration of this important part of north London, a key test for Labour’s administration 2010-2014 is to oversee the start of community benefits arising from the massive King’s Cross development.
To do so would be a continuation of Labour’s historic investment in regeneration and anti-social behaviour going back to the 1990s.
King’s Cross is one of the most significant development and regeneration opportunities in Central London. It is one of the largest inner city regeneration projects in Europe with over £3bn of investment (includes £1bn transport infrastructure and £2bn King’s Cross Central) over the next 10 years.
Key are the planning benefits negotiated from developer Argent. Outline planning permission and a S106 Legal Agreement negotiated by Labour were granted for King’s Cross Central in 2006. This development is now underway and comprises up to nearly 8 million sq ft of mixed use development over 27 hectares.
The permission includes up to 50 new buildings, 20 new streets, 10 new major public spaces, the restoration and refurbishment of 20 historic buildings and structures, creating up to 2000 homes and 25,000 jobs.
Unlike some other major developments the entire project will be public, rather than private realm i.e. under the democratic control of the council. This was a big negotiating point for us.
Some of the wins including community benefits – mixing open space, with mixed housing and business, secured as part of King’s Cross Central include
- 44% of the homes will be affordable (some 750 units). Blocks R4 and R5, over 200 affordable units are currently under construction completion expected in end of 2012/2013. These Phase 1 affordable units are being provided earlier than specified in the S106.
- Construction Training Skills Centre – This opened in Dec 2008 (S106 secured, Argent built as a cost of £2m including £1m revenue funding for the centre). The Centre hosts a range of training and construction courses including a successful and oversubscribed construction apprenticeship programme for local people (estimated to provide over 100 construction apprenticeships p.a. for local residents over the next eight years)
- Recruitment Skill Centre to allow local people access to the 25,000 jobs created.
- A whole host of measured to support local businesses including providing start up units on site (including start up space for the voluntary sector), access to procurement of contracts and a business volunteering scheme.
- Community, Sports and Education facilities – a new 2 form entry Primary School, £1.5m contribution towards secondary school provision in the borough, £100K to support local educational facilities, medical centre, multi-use games area, community meeting facilities, £1.5m social and community fund and council leisure facilities including a swimming pool, gym and an indoor sports hall.
- 40% of the development is public realm including new parks and a range of play facilities.
- £6m enhancements to Regent’s Canal including new bridges over the canal
- £225k Credit Union
- Police Office
- Improvements to Camley Street Nature Park including a new visitor centre
- Financial contributions to improve local streets/public realm (e.g. £400k for Camley Street, £800k for York Way, £75k for Purchase Street open space) , bus stands and services (£4.2m), a public bicycle interchange facility, feasibility study for a Maiden Lane Station (funds received and study underway) and Green Travel Plans.
- Financial contribution for the employment of a Environmental Health Officer (money received and officer employed)
- A range of environmentally sustainable considerations including a District Heating Combine Heat and Power Centre, green and brown roofs, photovoltaic and solar water heating, ground source water heating, £500k Carbon Fund and commitments to carbon saving including energy efficient building design
- £1.75m Public Art and
- The restoration of historic buildings including the gasholders.
Kings Cross Central is one of the few developments in London to build though the recessions. Argent has secured funding for Phase 1 of the development. Phase 1 of the development is due for completion by 2014 and will deliver
- a new University of the Arts campus for up to 5000 students including a new Granary Square and canal improvements (opens Sept 2011)
- Up to 250 affordable housing units
- Combine Heat and Power Centre
- Construction Training Skills Centre (opened Dec 2008)
- Council Leisure Facilities and Library in B3.
Completing King’s Cross (final brick laid in 2020) will finish the transformation of the King’s Cross area started in the mid-1990s.
Labour will have played an important part in achieving this change, attracting business and investment, reducing crime, promoting opportunities for local people while retaining the distinct social mix of the borough.