Green light for mixed-use King's Cross development

Green light for mixed-use King's Cross development (iStock)

The construction of a new mixed-use development in north London has been granted planning permission. This will also involve the demolition of an old Royal Mail sorting office. 

It is being redeveloped in a partnership between Reef and the British Airways Pension Fund, with six new buildings being constructed alongside the Regent's Canal. 

The sorting office is known as the "ugly brown building" by tenants, and the unloved structure alongside the Regent's Canal in King's Cross will be razed to the ground and replaced by six new buildings. 

It comes at a time when the commercial property sector in London is experiencing some mixed fortunes, but the signs in the prime central London district appear very healthy. 

The residential element will contain 70 apartments, while there will also be a gym and hotel. Central to the development will be a new headquarters for the retailer Ted Baker. The work will be phased so that its staff can move to a separate block while its new premises are built. Once the new facility is in place, it will house 1,000 employees. 

Designed by Bennetts Associates, the new development will be constructed from red brick, in keeping with the architectural style of other new buildings around the canalside. 

King's Cross has seen massive redevelopment in recent years, focused on its position beside two national rail service providers as well as the Eurostar and six lines of the London Underground. 

In addition to Google deciding to base its new UK headquarters there, another internet giant - Facebook - is following suit. 

The social media firm has revealed it is to establish three new offices in the King's Cross area by 2021, providing 600,000 sq ft of space and room for 6,000 employees. 

It is a significant statement of intent, with Facebook’s managing director for northern Europe, Steve Hatch, commenting: "The UK is one of the best places in the world to be a technology company and we’re investing here for the long term."

That kind of sentiment, coming from such an influential force in the global internet sector, may have significant implications for the way London and the UK are perceived as a centre for technology. Whatever else Brexit will to do to the capital as a global centre, such a statement suggests the tech sector at least is confident in both the present and the future. 

Small wonder that the politicians have reacted gleefully. London mayor Sadiq Khan said: "We welcome Facebook’s long-term commitment, which is further evidence that London is open for business and a world-leading destination for major tech companies."

Secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Jeremy Wright called the move "another vote of confidence in our economy". 

However, while everything appears to be booming in King's Cross, some London areas may not be doing so well. 

For example, the planned £1.4 billion expansion of the Brent Cross Shopping Centre by owners Hammerson has been placed on hold, with the company announcing in its half-yearly report that the "current turbulence in the UK retail markets" has prompted it to defer the investment. 

These contrasting fortunes suggest that while some parts of London may at least suffer to an extent amid the economic uncertainty enveloping the Brexit-bound UK, others are still set to go on booming. It means investors may have to make wise choices, but will still find good opportunities.