King’s Cross is one of the largest and most exciting redevelopments in London. The 67-acre site has a rich history and a unique setting. What was an underused industrial wasteland is being transformed into a new part of the city with homes, shops, offices, galleries, bars, restaurants, schools, and even a university. It’s a whole new piece of London with a brand new postcode, N1C.
The location, the connections, the canal-side setting, the rich and varied heritage, an exciting cultural scene, a thriving business community, and a strong sense of local community. All these things come together at King’s Cross to make it unique, exciting and really quite special.
The story so far
With the completion of Regent’s Canal in 1820, King’s Cross was linked to the industrial cities in the North, bringing both goods and industry to the area. It was the coming of the railways in the mid-1800s however, that transformed King’s Cross into an important industrial heartland. Coal, grain, potatoes and other commodities arrive here to be transported on. When road replaced rail freight after the Second World War, the area went into decline and by the late 20th Century, the area known as the railway lands had become a series of disused buildings, railway sidings, warehouses and contaminated land.
Early plans for redevelopment fell through, but the 1996 decision to move the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from Waterloo to St Pancras became the catalyst for change. The landowners – London & Continental Railways Limited and Excel (now DHL) decided to develop the land.
In 2001, Argent was selected as the development partner. The project began with several years of intensive studies and consultation with the local community, government and other stakeholders. This work formed the basis for a vision for the development, from which the masterplan evolved.
The plan was prepared by Allies and Morrison, Porphyrios Associates and Townshend Landscape Architects, in 2006 outline planning permission was granted. The permission allowed for c.50 new building, 20 new streets, 10 new major public spaces, the restoration and refurbishment of 20 historic buildings and structures and up to 2,000 homes.
In 2008, Argent, London & Continental Railways and DHL formed a joint partnership: Kings Cross Central Limited Partnership. The partnership was the single landowner at King’s Cross. Early infrastructure works began in June 2007, with development starting in earnest in November 2008. Much of the early investment was focused in and around the Victorian buildings that once formed the Goods Yard.
In September 2011 the University of the Arts London moved to the Granary Complex and parts of the development opened to the public for the first time.
Since then, restaurants have opened, the Great Northern Hotel has been refurbished and residents have moved in. The historic Coal Drops have been redeveloped as a unique shopping destination and companies such as Google, Louis Vuitton, Universal Music and Havas are choosing to locate here.
In January 2015, the UK government and DHL announced the sale of their investment in the King’s Cross redevelopment to Australian Super, Australia’s biggest superannuation/pension funds run only to profit members.
King’s Cross in numbers
50 new buildings
1,900 new homes
20 new streets
10 new public parks and squares
26 acres of open space
42,000 people by 2022
The Urban Land Institute case study
Urban Land Institute Case Studies showcase innovative approaches and best practices in urban development. This non-profit educational organisation recently published an in-depth case study on King’s Cross. You can read the ULI King’s Cross case study here.
“The perfect mix of grittiness and shininess, simultaneously a symbol of London’s industrial and engineering past and the creative present.” –Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times