by KIngs Cross lands

Real life Monopoly played by the Government as they announce sale of the Kings Cross railway estate for £371 million

Published: 31st January 2016

Vibrant new London district created around King’s Cross ten years after Planning Approval obtained

The government retained ownership of the derelict railway buildings and swathes of land to the north and north west of Kings Cross in 1994 when the railways were privatised. They included them as part of the agreement to fund and construct High Speed 1 or The Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) as it was then known.

The deal fell through when London & Continental Railways (LCR), a consortium who bid to construct the CTRL, could not fulfil their obligations to fund the construction in 1998. Railtrack was then given the authority to build the CTRL in a complicated equity debt deal.

Following the expensive but well carried out modernisation and upgrade of St Pancras and Kings Cross stations, the surrounding land has become a valuable asset and much has been redeveloped with more work to be carried out to complete the project.

The Government has announced the sale for £371 million of its L&CR stake to AustralianSuper of its investment in the King’s Cross development. The sale covers the investment in the 67-acre site, which is being transformed with offices, residential and leisure properties. It was known as an area to avoid and over the last 40 years or so, has been in a downward spiral of inner-city decay. The proceeds have been paid to the Treasury.

AustralianSuper is the largest pension fund in Australia has obviously seen the potential in the area which has attracted Google to a massive new HQ while a huge Waitrose store was creted inside one of the huge Victorian Warehouses. The development, which has made use of many historic buildings, is now recognised as one of Europe’s most important city-centre regeneration projects.

They said:

Department for Transport Minister of State Robert Goodwill said:

I am delighted that the sale of government’s shares in King’s Cross Central, an asset we no longer need to keep, has enabled us to realise its value for the taxpayer.

AustralianSuper Head of Property Jack McGougan said:

We are pleased to have secured an increased stake in this iconic mixed use development and look forward to working with our co-investors and the Argent development team to create a vibrant, commercially successful neighbourhood in Central London.

New vibrant London district created

The King’s Cross lands are a 67-acre, 8 million square foot of buildings strategically located London development comprising homes, offices, schools, restaurants and shops. The development, with 50 new and refurbished buildings will have 26 acres of public areas, including 10 new parks and squares, 20 new streets and three new bridges across the Regent’s Canal.

It will also have close to 2,000 homes. Its occupiers include Google, the Aga Khan Development Network, and University of the Arts London. The development is home to 2 new schools: Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children and the primary school, King’s Cross Academy. The site is adjacent to King’s Cross Station, which services 6 London Underground lines, and St Pancras Station, from where Eurostar services connect to Paris and Brussels and later this year, Amsterdam.

The Chairman of KCCLP, Sir David Clementi said:

The King’s Cross development partnership’s long-term approach has created one of Europe’s most exciting places to live, work, or visit - a real asset to London.

How and who?

The sale was made via a competitive sale process with Lazard as financial adviser conducting the sale process supported by real estate advisers Savills and legal advisers Herbert Smith Freehills.

The Government’s stake in King’s Cross was held by its wholly-owned subsidiary, LCR, which has overseen the development at King’s Cross on behalf of government for 20 years. Since the delivery of HS1/CTRL and the restoration of St. Pancras International in 2007, LCR has worked closely with Argent, Hermes and DHL Exel through KCCLP. Since then, significant progress has been made on the 8 million square foot development to put King’s Cross on the map as a destination for London.

How to reach the area?

Given that Kings Cross and St Pancras stations are within five minutes walking distance of this new vibrant area, it can be reached using the hundreds of trains daily from as far away as Aberdeen and Inverness. But realistically for a day trip from Sheffield, Leeds, York and Newcastle. And running under the development is Thameslink which has direct trains from Brighton and Kent.

Lille was a destination for London area day trippers but now the reverse is true. Passengers from Brussels, Paris and Lille can also visit the area on a day trip.

The development has a superb Visitor Centre and offers guided tours or individual ones using your mobile device. There is free fast broadband across the site.

Use to book your rail tickets to Kings Cross or St Pancras in advance to secure the best rates.

Why can’t the Wolverton Works redevelopment plans follow suite?

Local Objectors to property developer St Modwen’s plans to demolish the World’s oldest continuously open major railway Works at Wolverton are now asking why the Works cannot be redeveloped in a similar fashion to Kings Cross. The plans were thrown somewhat awry following a decision to make the retention of the historic buildings, dating back to the 1850s part of local planning policy last summer. The project is running almost a year late on St Modwen’s original projections.

St Modwen, who own Wolverton Works said that they expected the Planning decision to be taken in February but have denied that their Application had been withdrawn. It has, they said, been amended to take in the views expressed by Objectors and the result of the 2015 local Wolverton referendum which brought the revised legally binding planning policy guideline.

St Modwen say that tenants Knorr-Bremse require a new modern rail facility and that if this was not possible, jobs would be at risk. But Knorr-Bremse are winning more long-term train renovation contracts and their current Lease expires in 2018. So the question locals are asking is that if the historic buildings have to be retained, will rail jobs disappear if Knorr-Bremse relocate as a result?

But where would they move to - as a new rail facility would need to be constructed and the planning and construction process will take several years at least. It’s a conundrum that appears to have no satisfactory answer for any of the companies involved.

But the redevelopment of the former railway land and reusing the buildings just north of Kings Cross has demonstrated just what can be achieved by property developers and the local Council working together to create a new urban village boosting the local economy with employment and tourism.

The former Kings Cross railway sheds, warehouses and offices built by the Great Northern Railway have been carefully reused as shops, offices, and small business use with a large supermarket taking up warehouse space.

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