St Pancras – the heart of science, technology and innovation (Part 2)

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Written By
Jack Sallabank
Written By
Jack Sallabank

It’s not enough to have world-class office space and impressive businesses. Places need transport connections that make them natural hubs, which is what King’s Cross has been since the emergence of railways in the 19th century. Anyone in the world who has watched or read Harry Potter would associate King’s Cross with trains

These days, those railway connections continue to exist and expand. Connected to both Cambridge and Oxford, King’s Cross is part of the wider ‘golden triangle’ life science cluster – the largest in Europe. Trains from St Pancras connect the area to the continent in a couple of hours; Euston leads to growing hubs in the regions; and with King’s Cross station serving more London Underground lines than any other in the capital, it has unparalleled local connectivity as well.

Truly successful places, however, also have to be built with humans in mind – humans using their feet and bicycles. Pedestrianisation has been a key feature of King’s Cross in order to make it family friendly. Granary Square has been fully pedestrianised since 2018, and last year, the area announced the pedestrianisation of King’s Boulevard – the main road from King’s Cross and St Pancras stations to the Estate. The lack of cars creates a place where everything is accessible on foot, slowing things down to an enjoyable, human level.

Tribeca does exactly the same. For years, the Ugly Brown Building has blocked access to Regent’s Canal, a pleasant, picturesque gem that stretches through King’s Cross and beyond. The development opens up a canal-side path for the first time. It breaks up the five separate buildings with routes through them, linking St Pancras Way to Regent’s Canal and Granary Street – places people walk.

At the centre of the scheme is a public open space aligned with the afternoon sun path. A canal-side garden, meanwhile, links to existing greenspace on the canal edge and receives morning sun. In short, what is now a largely unwelcoming industrial building will soon be a light, buzzing place created with people in mind.

Spaces for people

Once an area has a talented workforce and strong connectivity, it needs to give people reasons to come back throughout the day and the week. Otherwise, it becomes a ghost town on evenings and weekends.

King’s Cross tackles this on several fronts. First, it has 500,000 sq ft of retail and leisure – more than 50 shops, bars and restaurants at Coal Drops Yard alone. It showcases global brands while making space for pop-ups and markets. Regular workshops and events encourage people to visit for more than just shopping, helping build a community in the area.

There are also 26 acres of parks, gardens and open spaces because people need natural green spaces for their mental and physical wellbeing. Those open spaces also host concerts, markets and other events. And dotted throughout are 2,000 homes that bring life to the area every day of the week.

Although anchored on world-leading research and business, at its heart King’s Cross is a place for people. Any new developments would have to follow that same ethos, which is what Tribeca does.

Lining the new open spaces are a raft of shops, bars and restaurants that sit at ground level in each building. The Reflector building – the Ted Baker HQ – will house a hotel and a floor for bars and restaurants. The Platform – a pavilion at the centre of the development – offers two floors of retail and leisure space alongside a rooftop terrace. Some 69 homes, including affordable ones, are also included to tie the area together as a community.

The combination of ‘work, live, play’ will ensure that activity here doesn’t stop when work stops. It will spill out into the square, along the canal and out into the wider King’s Cross area. As these buildings emerge over the next five years, Tribeca will truly become a place to connect, innovate and relax. It will remind us that as the King’s Cross story develops, as it grows bigger and better, the values that underpin its success continue to guide it in the chapters to come.