The overall scheme comprises over 10,000m2 of office floorspace, a new hotel and over 200 new homes in a combination of new build and refurbished historic buildings. Programmed to be delivered over four phases, changes to occupier demand and the economic climate meant the final phase was no longer viable.
Regenerating central London
The key to ensuring this successful scheme could be completed, and a vibrant, mixed-use new quarter in King’s Cross created, was balancing the competing demands and aspirations of the local planning authority (including different departments with the council with individual agendas) and local stakeholders. The final phase of the scheme had to be remodelled and reconfigured to ensure viability and therefore deliverability.
Our approach is always to discuss viability at a very early stage with planning officers – here it was absolutely essential. Whilst we engaged with each council department on its own “wish list” of items, it was essential that we identified one person within the authority who could, and would, consider all the various elements of the scheme, including Section 106 Agreement contributions, “in the round”. This meant that not everyone in the council was going to get what they wanted from the scheme. In addition, it was made clear to officers that the scheme would not be planning policy compliant in a number of key areas where impact on viability was greatest. Compromises would have to be made, but by addressing the risk early in negotiations and engaging officers and Members at a senior level, there was recognition from the council that the “shopping list” approach to planning obligations and requirement for strict policy compliance would kill of the scheme.
By working closely with the various council officers to build consensus and then establishing a single, senior, point of contact to agree the overall balance, a change in both the unit mix and tenure mix of the housing element and the mix of A Class uses of the proposals to a non-policy compliant but viable position was agreed. Phasing of certain financial payments within the Section 106 Agreement was also renegotiated to help viability in the early stages of construction.