CURB APPEAL: A new town centre is being created around Wembley Stadium


by HOWARD ROBIN DEVELOPERS AND HOME OWNERS ARE INVESTING IN NORTH LONDON IS IT the lights in the tower cranes winking in the night-time sky? The bars, bistros and baristas competing with the chicken shops, charity stores and bookmakers for the local pound? Or simply the multi-millions in bricks and mortar investment being pumped in by developers? Whatever the visible signs that an area has that coveted quality of ‘potential’, few would currently bet against the prospects of Brent Cross, Cricklewood and Wembley in north London. These hitherto unfash­ionable swathes on either side of the North Circular are undergoing the sort of rapid transformations possibly not seen since London’s post-war reconstruction. Work to dramatically transform Brent Cross Shopping Centre and the surround­ing area is due to start this year, following the government’s approval of two com­pulsory purchase orders. According to Barnet Council, the regeneration will cre­ate a sustainable new town centre for north London, bring more than 7,500 new homes, substantial commercial and retail space and improved transport links over 151 hectares. Plans for the historic shopping centre include 60 restaurants and 200 new stores, turning it into a retail and lei­sure complex to rival Westfield. Meanwhile, the regeneration of Wemb­ley, part of the London borough of Brent, is one of the largest projects of its kind in the country. According to the mayor of London, the area can accommodate as many as 11,500 new homes and 10,000 new jobs through the development of sites along Wembley High Road and the land around Wembley Stadium. Together these northwest London schemes are expected to provide a major boost to prosperity in surrounding areas, as well as opportunities for buy­ers, renters and investors. According to property experts, there are many factors to consider when entering any sector of the market. However, one surefire indicator for property hotspots is regeneration. Areas that receive consid­erable cash injections are generally considered promising locations for investment, whether buy to let or otherwise. This is partly because when run­down areas are improved through major schemes and more modern facilities, they become magnets for larger cross-sections of the population whose urban aspirations will reflect the transformation of the surrounding landscape. The Brent Cross-Cricklewood regeneration area is made up of three distinct zones. Brent Cross London will see the modernised and extended shopping centre, improvements to critical road infrastructure as well as cycling and pedestrian access. This is being delivered by Hammerson and Standard Life Investments. Brent Cross South will see the creation of a new high street south of the North Circular, including 6,700 new homes, commercial development and new and improved community facilities and public spaces. This is being delivered by Argent Related as joint venture partner with Barnet Council. The third tranche of the scheme will see a new Brent Cross West Thameslink station and associated infrastructure works to provide pedestrian, cycling and vehicle links across the railway and replace out­dated waste and freight facilities. This will be delivered by Barnet Council in partnership with Network Rail. Brent Cross Shopping Centre will undergo a major transformation Richard Cornelius, the leader of Barnet Council, told Eastern Eye: “This is a fantastic opportunity for a major part of our borough to be transformed, cre­ating thousands of new jobs and homes. Securing the agreement signifies our partners’ confidence in the scheme and London’s future. “I am sure that together we will be able to breathe new life into this area and create a thriving London neighbourhood which will be a model for the 21st century.” A spokesman for Hammerson and Standard Life Investments said: “As one of London’s key strategic growth projects, we are committed to bringing for­ward this major regeneration project which will cre­ate a vibrant new town centre for north London and will transform Brent Cross Shopping Centre so that it can continue to play its central role in both the lo­cal community and London.” Meanwhile, the property giant behind the £3 bil­lion transformation of Wembley Park has outlined the latest stage of the creation of a new town centre around the national stadium. Developer Quintain unveiled its scheme at an event at Wembley for a further 250,000 sq ft of shops, food outlets, restau­rants and bars at the 85-acre site, doubling what has already been constructed. The major finished element so far is the London Designer Outlet shopping centre, while Boxpark Wembley, London’s third street food and bar mall, constructed entirely from shipping containers, is set to be launched later this year. The next stage will involve the creation of 7,000 homes, offices, a massive gym and a park with a swimming lake. A new live music venue is also be­ing considered. houses for rent in the new Wembley Park development include outside terraces, water features and gardens Quintain has released graphics illustrating how the area will appear by 2027, a quarter of a century after the original home of the Three Lions was knocked down, kickstarting the current regeneration. Back then it was a rundown neighbourhood of light industrial estates around the ageing stadium that was first opened for a sporting event in 1923. The surrounding Wembley Park had been specifi­cally created for the British Empire Exhibition two years later. Quintain’s retail director Matt Slade said that the current transformation would result in a destination area for shopping, living and leisure. “It’s about cre­ating a place to live, a place to work, a place to shop, regardless of what’s happening at the stadium.” The developer has planning permission for a to­tal of 6,955 homes at Wembley Park, of which 995 have already been completed. Of these, 4,874 homes will be built to rent; 2,081 homes will be ei­ther for sale, shared ownership or managed by a housing association. The homes for rent are via letting experts Tipi. Samsung Electronics has signed a multi-million-pound contract with Quintain to supply digital ap­pliances to more than 3,000 of these flats. Cristina Siladi, sales manager at estate agent Ellis & Co, said there had long been a divide between Wembley Park and Wembley Central. Wembley Park is regarded as the “new” Wembley and the recipient of most of the investment. Consequently, its apart­ments cost more – some houses in the area have asking prices of more than £1 million. However, Wembley Central is now undergoing considerable development and could emerge as even better value. “If you look at Wembley High Road, it is really only chicken shops and betting shops,” said Siladi. She believes that as space for redevelopment around Wembley Park runs out, investors will look more and more to Wembley Central, slightly to the southwest. “It is improving and in a few years’ time, I think it is going to be a lot better,” she added. Local resident VN Shah told Eastern Eye: “Wemb­ley Central definitely seems on the up after years of neglect. They have improved the station, built a new precinct and are putting up lots of new flats. There is definitely a feeling of change about the place.” A new two-bedroom flat near Wembley Park would cost around £450,000-£500,000 A three-four-bedroom 1930s house in the area would cost around the same The Broadway NW2, a new residential develop­ment by Fairview New Homes, in Cricklewood, be­gan offering one-, two- and three-bedroom apart­ments for sale in May last year. The development in­cludes three medium-sized business start-up units at ground-floor level. At the new micro neighbourhood of Gladstone Village in Cricklewood, Octavia Living is offering stylish four-bedroom houses from £895,000. Flats will be available later. Call 0208 208 8355 for details.