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Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 16:33 UK
Tranforming King's Cross


Victorian industrial parts have been found on the site

In partnership with the landowners, London & Continental Railways and DHL-Exel, the property developers, Argent, is overseeing the regeneration of King's Cross. Project Director Richard Meier gives BBC London an overview of the huge project.

"The project covers 67 acres. It is a bit like a slice of cake, as you head north it gets wider. Right in the middle of the site is the Regent's Canal. It has a vast array of listed and historical buildings, which relates to its industrial and transport past. The actual build in total could take 10-15 years."

Project Director Richard Meier
The whole project covers 67 acres says Richard Meier

"There is about 8 million square feet of development. It is for commercial use, retail, leisure, housing and the University buildings. I think about 57% of the development is public space."

"Granary Square will be the largest public space - it will be of the size of Trafalgar Square. It will have fountains and be suitable for events. We are very keen to build a place that is more than a business park. In this we are really helped by the fact that there are historic buildings here."

"We're very fortunate because there are two landowners and we are in partnership with them so there's been no Compulsory Purchase Orders to get through. Argent is an active partner within the partnership. Obviously we are in consultation with them, but we are able to have a bit more freedom in terms of what we can do on site. There are other partners involved, such as Camden Council, British Waterways and English Heritage."

The Granary building
This will be a new public square to rival Trafalgar Square

Social regeneration

"We're trying to learn lessons from the past of what has and hasn't worked in regenerating an area. We want this to be a safe area; we want families and children to live here and to play. Likewise we don't want to forget the past; we don't want to wipe the slate completely clean. So it is a careful balance to be had."

"We have taken this very seriously and in the planning we ran a number of consultations, visiting schools for example. Now there's another initiative that we are doing to bring this forward - such as public art and getting the community involved in that."

The history & working with listed buildings

"The area has got a fascinating history attached to it. It is very interesting, particularly after you have read about it, to then be looking on site and seeing the discoveries that have been made and attribute things that were shown on historic plans coming to light. And then we can see how they can be used and interpreted within the scheme."

"Yes, it is more challenging because the buildings are listed. There is much greater interest from Camden Council and there is full interest from English Heritage."

The Granary interior
Original features inside the Granary

"In many respects it makes it more challenging as well, and we have a better design as a result of having these various constraints. I think it creates a better product in the end because with listed buildings you work around and work with them. Perhaps it is much better than just starting with a complete clean slate."

"It's a careful balance - you don't want to end up with a museum, but likewise you don't want to forget the past and that is something we are working on."

Working with the college

"Dialogue is really regular; we are in contact with the university and their representatives on a daily basis."

"We've always been willing to have them involved to help aid the promotion of the development. We have helped on a number of courses; students have come on to the site and done design studies and so on. We've done a number of walk rounds on the site and it helps them to understand what is going on."

The Granary rear
The space behind the Granary will also be transformed

Judging success

"For me there is the general response, being on budget and on programme, which is all very important. But there is also the emotional response and seeing people walking round with a smile on their face and enjoying it."

"What I find fascinating is when you walk around the college at the moment and seeing the thousands of students all doing their various things. To see them in the new space, enjoying it and getting on with it. That would give me the greatest satisfaction."

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