New nodes of connectivity within the greater London area are dramatically changing the investment value of areas such as King’s Cross, Wembley, Ealing and Wimbledon/Morden.

North of central London, major global corporations such as Google have moved their head office to King’s Cross, enjoying the transformation from back-packers’ hub to a part of a massive mixed-use regeneration by developer Argent. The arrival of the Eurostar terminal at King’s Cross, St Pancras in November 2007, and the resulting easy access to France and Europe, has been a further attraction for business, as well as the influx of tech companies in nearby north-east London.


“King’s Cross is the largest mixed-use development in single ownership to be developed in central London for more than 150 years,” says David Partridge, a partner at Argent. “The 27-hectare site has a rich history and a unique setting – and it is adjacent to the best-connected transport hub in London. What is emerging here is a vibrant new city quarter of offices, homes, community facilities, schools, a world-renowned university as well as a host of shops, restaurants, bars and cultural venues.”

Creative restoration

When complete, there will be 50 new and refurbished buildings set in a network of new streets, squares, parks and public spaces. More than 20 historic buildings and structures are being creatively restored and given new uses. King’s Cross even has its own brand-new postcode – N1C.

More than 279,000 square metres (sq m) of office space is being built in 19 new and historic buildings. The buildings are each being designed by different, world-famous architects – all of whom bring their own distinctive contribution. Thomas Heatherwick, designer of the cauldron for the London Olympics 2012 and of the Garden Bridge project over the Thames, has won planning permission to convert a Victorian coalyard on the site into a canalside shopping destination. Heatherwick Studio is also designing Google’s new London headquarters for the N1C site.

“The new Google building pushes the boundaries of sustainable workplace design. In fact, every office building at King’s Cross is designed with environmental sustainability at its core,” says Mr Partridge.

Other companies located at King’s Cross include Universal Music, the London Borough of Camden, Guardian Media Group, Louis Vuitton, Knight Frank, Hoare Lea, the University of the Arts London and the Finnish Institute.

New destination 

Inn the north-west of the city, Wembley Park is the development by property investment company Quintain that is transforming the 34-hectare area around Wembley Stadium and the SSE Arena, bringing new shopping, leisure facilities, homes and public spaces to create another major new destination and neighbourhood for London. And, of course, office space.

Quintain has appointed Colliers International and Cushman & Wakefield to market 69,677 sq m of offices, pitching to large companies from the UK and overseas seeking a headquarters close to London rail and Tube services.

Wembley Park is linked by three rail stations, three Tube lines, the London Overground and, if union disputes are resolved, it may soon be served by the 24-hour Tube at weekends. It also has excellent road links to the M1, M40 and M25, and 3000 parking spaces.

Wembley Park also boasts the fastest broadband in London, made possible with fibre-optic cables built in as standard. Current offices and homes have speeds of up to 1GB and the SSE Arena and new offices will benefit from 10GB.

James Saunders, chief operating officer at Quintain, says: “This makes Wembley ideal for hi-tech businesses and financial companies dealing with large volumes of data. The offices will be built bespoke to individual requirements and will aim to rival other major fringe London developments such as Stratford and Croydon with prices at less than £40 per square foot.”

More than 4000 people are already working at Wembley Park’s campus-style site which houses Wembley Stadium and the SSE Arena, as well as the 70-store London Designer Outlet, central London’s only outlet shopping centre.

East meets west

East London has been boosted by the massive investment in infrastructure and housing stemming from the city's hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games. Now, the arrival of Crossrail in 2018 is spurring London’s property developers into action, boosting the supply of further residential and commercial developments.

Research undertaken by property consultant GVA shows that from 2008 to 2013, 41% of planning applications within one kilometre of a Crossrail station cited the new railway as a justification for the development proceeding, equating to about 4.9 million sq m of residential, commercial and retail space.

Crossrail’s positive influence on development has increased over time, with 15% of planning applications citing it as a factor in 2009, increasing to 48% in the first six months of 2013.

Although the findings make it clear that Crossrail is not the only factor influencing development, they are evidence of the part Crossrail plays in unlocking regeneration in London and helping to alleviate constrained supplies of housing and offices in the capital.

Central developments

The GVA research also showed that central London and the city’s ‘East End’ are seeing the most planning applications within a kilometre of Crossrail stations, with each of Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Custom House Canary Wharf and Stratford having more than 464,500 sq m in the development pipeline.

Outer areas such as Woolwich, Southall, Ilford, Slough and Maidenhead are also seeing significant regeneration brought forward by Crossrail.

In its own right, Crossrail is developing 278,709 sq m (gross) of commercial, residential and retail space above 12 key construction sites. It already has joint ventures in place for six of these sites and is seeking joint-venture partners for the others in the coming months.

Crossrail is among the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK. From improving journey times across London, to easing congestion and offering better connections, those behind the project say that Crossrail will provide easier, quicker and more direct travel opportunities across the capital.

The new railway will be a high-frequency, high-capacity service linking 40 stations between Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east via 21 kilometres of new twin-bore tunnels under central London and the city's Docklands area. It will bring an additional 1.5 million people within 45 minutes' commuting distance of London's key business districts.

Ten new Crossrail stations are being built at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Custom House, Woolwich and Abbey Wood.

The second coming

Crossrail 2, a proposed second line that will run from north of London to south of the city, will connect Broxbourne in the Hertfordshire commuter belt to Epsom in Surrey.

In the south, a massive regeneration is planned by Merton Council, which embraces the world-renowned district of Wimbledon. More usually associated with the famous annual Lawn Tennis Championship, Wimbledon is part of the affluent borough of Merton, which boasts a highly skilled population that is spread across a diverse array of businesses and, as part of the regeneration scheme and planning for Crossrail 2, the borough is also forging ahead with an FDI drive.

Eric Osei, business growth officer at the borough, says: “Merton is an excellent place in London for starting up, locating and doing business. Half our population of working age have at least degree-level qualifications, compared with the London average of 42%. Wimbledon is Merton’s largest business and employment centre and the headquarters for many leading brands, including Lidl, Ryman and Zipcar, and the base for IT start-ups with Wimbletech Studios and Geeks Ltd.

“Regeneration investment is focused on physical and transport infrastructure improvement, new housing, new business, skills and employment measures. [The] Mitcham and Colliers Wood [areas] alone are attracting £9m [$12.9m] of investment [over three years],” says Paul McGarry, head of regeneration team FutureMerton.

“The locational advantage for investors is that Wimbledon SW19 is a globally recognised brand, but it comes with excellent transport links, the London Underground, trains and close proximity to the A3, A24 and M25 roads, and even a tram. There are large industrial estates affording space for logistics, construction, manufacturing and other industrial companies and there is a high-speed broadband capability in Merton’s business locations.”

Currently Crossrail 2 is at the consultation stage and the Victorian Society, a London-based preservation group, has raised concerns that constructing the $46bn railway line will require the demolition of Grade II-listed buildings, including a 400-year-old pub in Wimbledon. Michelle Dix, managing director for Crossrail 2 at TfL, says: “Demolition is always our last resort.”

At Merton Council, the FDI and regeneration team can only see the advantages. Through Crossrail 2, the area will be only 12 minutes away from Tottenham Court Road on London's iconic Oxford Street, 10 minutes to Victoria and 15 minutes to Euston, a winning statistic for the FDI team.

This story was corrected on 23 February to remove a reference to BNP Paribas Real Estate, which the print version of the story erroneously stated was based at King's Cross