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New garden bridge approved as part of £5bn revamp, with thousands of homes and an update for London's oldest shopping centre

The idea of a Garden Bridge over the Thames may have sunk without trace but next summer work will begin on a green bridge spanning the heaving lanes of the North Circular Road. This landscaped walkway will link a new north London suburb — with thousands of new homes and a station offering fast Thameslink trains to the City — to the much-needed revamp of London’s oldest shopping centre.

The idea of a Garden Bridge over the Thames may have sunk without trace but next summer work will begin on a green bridge spanning the heaving lanes of the North Circular Road.

This landscaped walkway will link a new north London suburb — with thousands of new homes and a station offering fast Thameslink trains to the City — to the much-needed revamp of London’s oldest shopping centre.

Work on the bridge, plus a £1.4 billion reboot of 41-year-old Brent Cross Shopping Centre will start next year after Barnet council granted planning permission last month.

Almost simultaneously, developer Argent Related, which is responsible for delivering 6,700 new homes plus almost three million square feet of office space, lodged a planning application for the first phase of about 300 flats at Brent Cross South.

Work is due to start within 18 months, the homes will go on sale in the middle of 2019, and the first residents will move into their new homes in 2021.

THE NEXT KING’S CROSS?

Argent Related’s £5 billion project, a joint venture with Barnet Council, will take 15 to 20 years to complete, and the firm — a joint venture between a US developer and the British team behind the regeneration of King’s Cross — will be working for architectural variety with a range of different designers.

The aim of Brent Cross South is to include 30 per cent affordable homes, first-time buyer homes and homes for renters. Andrew Turner, the developer’s project director, says the private homes will have “middle market” price tags.

Later phases could be pushed nearer the luxury end of the market.

Homes will mostly be in buildings of six to eight storeys, interspersed with 13- to 15-storey blocks, and will range from studios to family homes.

Close to the North Circular, creating an important breaker against the road, will be higher buildings of 20-plus storeys.

Turner’s job is to avoid turning the area into a vast dormitory estate filled with young professionals who would rather live elsewhere if they could afford it.

He says it is important to build office space for 25,000 people to prevent the area becoming a daytime dead space.

A GREAT SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

“It is why King’s Cross is such a success. You have to bring people into a live-work and leisure place.

"The shopping centre should be an enjoyable destination, and we should be able to meet the needs of British and international businesses.”

Another essential ingredient is plenty of green space, linked by walking and cycle routes, with a “pedestrian-friendly” high street of neighbourhood shops and restaurants, along with sports facilities and schools.

Within five years residents will be able to walk across the green bridge to the new Brent Cross London shopping centre with 300 shops, 50 restaurants and a cinema. The project, by Hammerson and Standard Life, will complete around 2022.

Ben Littman, development manager at Hammerson, knows shopping centres can be soulless, depressing strip-lit places, full of disconsolate gangs of teenagers getting in the way of harassed shoppers laden with bags and buggies. “We are looking at having three separate zones with different characters.”

There are early plans for a Borough Market-style “food village”, while an indoor town square area will be used for events such as ice skating and tennis.

Major stores and chains including M&S, Fenwick and John Lewis will remain, but Littman hopes to encourage and bring in individual shop owners.

JOINED UP TO CROSSRAIL

Linking the new suburb to the rest of London will be a new Brent Cross South Thameslink station — there is already a Tube station, Brent Cross, on the Northern line.

Work is due to start on the station next autumn, and by May 2022 residents will have regular services to King’s Cross St Pancras in 12 minutes and Farringdon in 15 minutes, from where they will be able to pick up Crossrail services east or west.


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