Kings Cross Central Generates £600M A Year For Locals And The Wider Economy. Here’s How Argent Did It.
Argent on Wednesday published a 99-page report attempting to quantify the benefit its 67-acre Kings Cross Central development has brought to the local area and the wider U.K. economy.
It argued the scheme has over its more than 15-year lifetime generated an average of more than £600M a year in “gross added value”, with the local community major beneficiaries.
It also outlined how this development differed from other major schemes and how Argent differed as a developer.
Such reports are becoming increasingly common, with developers seeking to show they are a force for good. This report, The Economic and Social Story of Kings Cross, highlights this when it points to “the need for developers to demonstrate stronger social and community commitments when working with the public sector … at a time when development and regeneration is facing ever greater levels of scrutiny”.
It was written by an independent consultant called Regeneris but commissioned by Kings Cross Central’s owners, which include Australia Super, the Australian pension fund, and Argent.
The bulk of that £600M a year figure comes from the fact that more than £3B has been invested in constructing the development and its infrastructure, which will include more than 50 new and repurposed buildings. Big occupiers that have signed up there include Google, which is taking a new 1M SF HQ at the development.
But some of the smaller numbers highlight the day-to-day impact on the local community in what was, until the scheme began to take shape, an area rife with poverty and prostitution.
More than 600 local people have been employed on the site, including 330 who were previously unemployed, which Argent estimates generates a public value of £4.6M — those unemployed people would previously have been a cost to the public purse.
Of the 1,500 construction suppliers used, 300 have been local and this has supported 500 local jobs and created £33M of value for the local community.
More than 8,500 people are employed by the companies that have taken space on the site and this has created 850 jobs in the wider community, which generates £48M for the local area, according to Argent.
The residential element of the scheme, which comprises 900 homes and 750 student accommodation units, has seen new residents spend an additional £77M in the local area.
That is what the scheme has done. So how has it done it? The report outlines a few major areas where it said Argent does things differently to other developers.
One was a big focus on placemaking from the very earliest stages of the scheme, particularly having a philosophy and set of principles laid out in writing that the scheme could be judged against. The amount of open space and events that all of the community could use was also flagged.
It also highlighted that Argent is a long-term owner of the scheme; that it has been willing to collaborate with the local authority and other outside parties; and that it has been innovative and willing to take risks.
Overall this meant that Kings Cross Central had significantly outperformed other urban “opportunity areas” outlined by the government, both in terms of value added for the community and the speed with which it has became accepted as a new part of the city.