Argent joint CEO raises questions about how built environment sector should respond to Brexit, Trump and 2017 general election at AJ100 breakfast event
Speaking to a packed AJ100 Breakfast Club at Claridge’s today (7 July), the first such event of the 2017/18 season, Argent chief David Partridge said that three major events in the past year came about as a result of ‘a sea change of people who felt left behind’.
The events were the EU referendum result, Trump becoming US president; and the hung parliament following the recent general election.
‘Arguably [those outcomes] came about as a result of a sea change of people – people who felt left behind by globalisation, people who have felt left behind by gentrification, people who perhaps feel left behind by the fact that so much power and activity is concentrated in cities,’ he said.
The leading developer and former president of the British Council for Offices also discussed the ‘cataclysmic events’ at Grenfell Tower, which he said would have a profound effect on the profession, saying it had ‘technical, political and regulatory implications’.
In the light of such events, he said, property development must be responsible and have a ‘positive impact on the whole of the community’, as well as on ‘the whole of the people of the United Kingdom’.
Since 2001, Argent has managed the redevelopment at the 67-acre King’s Cross site in central London to an Allies and Morrison masterplan which involves constructing about 50 new buildings; refurbishing 20 historic buildings; plus creating new public spaces and up to 2,000 new homes.
Major projects include the completed transformation of the 1800s Granary Building by Stanton Williams, which provides a new home for Central Saint Martins art college, and the refurbishment of the historic Coal Drops Yard by Heatherwick Studio into shops and restaurants, which is currently on site.
The King’s Cross development [is] sustainable and community-minded, and includes turning ‘the dreaded Section 106’ into opportunities
Partridge said the King’s Cross development was sustainable and community-minded, and included turning ‘the dreaded Section 106’ into opportunities by carefully considering how the money generated would most benefit those living and working there.
He said Argent also applied this ‘sustainable and responsible property development’ to several of its other major projects in London. These were Brent Cross South; its bid to transform Euston station; the regeneration of Tottenham Hale; and an estate regeneration scheme called Project Stone in east London.
Regarding the Brent Cross South development, Partridge discussed working in partnership with Barnet Council and credited the local authority for realising that its main asset was making use of its land holdings to raise finance. The project involves transforming the 180-acre site south of Brent Cross shopping centre to create 6,700 new homes, office space for 25,000 new jobs, and a new high street.
Turning to cities other than London, he praised new regional mayors such as Andy Burnham, saying such individuals ‘know how to pull those levers in terms of getting investments and necessary infrastructure on the ground’.
The breakfast, hosted by AJ managing editor Will Hurst, was sponsored by Aliva, Bespoke Careers, Deltalight, Equitone, Graphisoft, Grohe, Hoare Lea, Miele, Schlüter-Systems and Schüco UK.