Local authorities across London should mirror Lambeth’s approach to encouraging developers to build more workspace, while forming educational ‘clusters’ and knowledge quarters is already proving a viable draw for those building new offices.
Those were the key messages to emerge from the last in a series of ‘Working through lunch’ talks held last Friday at the NLA, and introduced by Cushman & Wakefield international partner Richard Howard. London has never stopped evolving, said Howard, with office area boundaries blurring through new areas for schemes emerging rapidly such as King’s Cross and, with the arrival of Apple and the US Embassy, Lambeth and Wandsworth.
Lambeth Council’s business and inward investment delivery lead Matthew Blades detailed a range of 11 projects the council is involved with geared towards fighting off the threat of permitted development rights. These include schemes at Loughborough Junction, an emerging cluster of spaces in Lower Marsh near Waterloo and ‘meanwhile’ projects such as Pop Brixton. But it is also seeing a trend, said Blades, of the council having more conversations about getting more workspace in big mixed use schemes with ‘big corporate developments’. These include talks with U&I about its 8 Albert Embankment project and the council urging Berkeley to ‘think seriously’ about workspace at its project around the Gasworks in Oval. Lambeth was developing policy on workspace and an evidence base, said Blades, in order to put in Article 4 directions for the whole of Brixton centre and parts of Clapham, and is hoping for exemption from PD rights in future. ‘It is becoming routine at the council for planners and the regeneration team to think about workspace within masterplans and also as a landlord to think about how it can plug into that. I encourage other authorities to do the research, link with regeneration teams and build space and identify workspace as an opportunity within the wider framework.’
Lendlease head of leasing Richard Saul said the scheme the developer is building in Stratford – the International Quarter – will add some 4.8 m sq ft of office space over the next 5-10 years. But the widely-held view that ‘work is no longer a place you go, it’s something you do’ held little truck with Saul. ‘I don’t know if I actually agree with that’, he said. ‘I think work should be fulfilling; it’s about human interaction and places, and buildings have a massive influence on that.’ To this end the developer is focusing on creating a place where people want to work, said Saul, with access to healthcare, transport, and retail, with the largest store in Europe, Westfield on the doorstep. And with people – especially Millennials – now more interested in ‘lifelong learning’ Saul is hoping that the educational ‘cluster’ that will form around UCL and the London College of Fashion moving to Stratford will mirror the success of St Martin’s and the Crick at King’s Cross. Businesses want to cluster where there is future learning’, said Saul. ‘People no longer want a job for life; they want lifelong learning.’ The developer is also focusing on creating buildings and a place with an emphasis on wellbeing with big atria and staircases to encourage people to meet face to face, and with the ‘absolutely key’ element of good, public realm ‘curated’ with exhibitions and public cinemas - ‘all to get people into the place’.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly