King's Cross revisited

This evening I heard a lecture by Peter Bishop who had been head of planning at Camden Council through most of the negotiations on the Argent development scheme.  These are some quick notes to help me remember… and later prepare for some further engagement with him/the topic.

I learned some new things:

(i) Argent were selected by LCR as developers on the basis of a one-page submission – a diagram I think – in which they said they had no idea how the development would be designed or would look but they did have a process in mind.  They defeated ‘all the big developers’ who came along with master plans and models.

(ii) The land merging between Argent and (then) Excel was concluded in a half-hour meeting in which they agreed to pool their holdings and take shares of profits proportional to the square metres of their land inputs. No valuations, no fuss.

(iii) The Treasury/DfT had handed over their land to LCR with a formula which promised them a slice of the scheme’s value. He added that now they had received it.  I’d like to clarify this point.

(iv) The terrible pedestrian layout of the LUL (TfL) post-Fennel underground station reconstruction was approved before his time.  Not clear whether Camden were even consulted. He agrees it’s awful.

(v) He agrees that the omission of the foot/bike/wheelchair bridge over the King’s Cross throat has been a great mistake. But he said there may now be some decking over the railway so it may come back.

(vi) The most notable impression I formed was that PB’s continuous use of “we” denoted a merged entity of Camden officers and Argent: (a fusion of capital and state?).  Interesting too that he said his team had been wonderfully resourced by Camden, enabling them to negotiate powerfully.

{I said very little, after arriving late from the originally-announced venue, finding the event located in a tiny room and spending 90 minutes lying on my back on the floor.}

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Author: Ed

staff in the Bartlett School of Planning and cooperating with others in UCL and with the Just Space Network to support London citizens' inpu

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