Lift-off for ‘Brent Cross Town’

As the first residents begin to move in, deputy leader Ross Houston speaks to Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter, about the council’s vision for the project

The first phase of Brent Cross Town is beginning to take shape
The first phase of Brent Cross Town is beginning to take shape

Barnet Council is preparing to welcome the first residents into new housing at ‘Brent Cross Town’ – one of the biggest regeneration projects it has ever undertaken.

Brent Cross Town is set to deliver 6,700 new homes, workspace for 25,000 people, as well as leisure facilities including restaurants and a cinema.

The project is being delivered by a joint venture partnership between the council and developer Related Argent, which was responsible for the redevelopment of King’s Cross in London and Hudson Yards in New York. 

Residents are being relocated from nearby Whitefield Estate, with 120 homes set to be occupied by summer 2024. The first residents, as a part of the wider regeneration programme which includes Brent Cross Town, will begin to move into homes from January, with 47 new homes occupied by the end of next month.

The entire programme is set to be fully delivered in between 15 and 20 years. 

Ross Houston, cabinet member for homes and regeneration, gave a tour of the project’s first phase to the Local Democracy Reporting Service this week.

Cllr Houston said: “That’s been a very successful part of the first phase, it’s a small number of residents moving from accommodation that wasn’t ideal into really nice, newly-built accommodation.” 

The idea behind Brent Cross Town is to create a new community that has “everything people need”.

Claremont Park, which runs through the development, was opened last year. Planning permission has also been obtained to enhance nearby Clitterhouse Playing Fields to make it more “usable”. 

Alongside Brent Cross Town, the council oversaw the opening of Brent Cross West Station earlier this month, connecting passengers via Thameslink to central London in twelve minutes. 

Brent Cross West Station opened earlier this month

Explaining why the station is a key part of the project, Cllr Houston said: “By building the station it meant the wider development was viable. This station plays a key role in connecting this part of London to the rest”.

Despite these recent successes, Brent Cross Town has been long in the making.

Before Labour took control in May 2022, Barnet Council had been run by the Conservatives for 20 years. Asked what changes the Labour administration has planned for the project since taking control, Cllr Houston said “the percentage of affordable housing” was something he wished to deliver on – providing more than the project had “initially conceived of”.

The first phase is set to deliver 20% affordable housing, consisting predominantly of social-rent homes, plus some shared ownership and discounted market rent.

Cllr Houston said: “Housing affordability has been our top priority in relation to place-shaping and planning, I think it’s fair to say that and making sure it’s sustainable, those are two key priorities.

“One of the good things about this is it’s a joint partnership, we are hoping that as this goes on we will be able to get more and more affordable housing built into it; it will be a priority where we can, to deliver more affordable housing.”

The vision for Brent Cross Town (credit Cityscape Digital)
The vision for Brent Cross Town (credit Cityscape Digital)

Describing residents’ initial reactions to a project of this “scope and scale” Cllr Houston admitted they were “mixed”. He said: “You’ll always have people who don’t like change and those who welcome the change.”

The cabinet member added the station and the park were great to have built first as they draw people in and have reduced fears around traffic congestion, making the area “better connected” and providing a green space for residents from across North London.

Speaking on how the project benefits the city in particular providing much-needed housing supply, Cllr Houston said: “Where there’s a real housing shortage and need to plan for the future in terms of our economy, this is the sort of site we should be building out. 

“If you can do it in a sustainable and attractive way then you’re creating somewhere people want to live 100 years from now. I have every faith in Related Argent and the council to deliver that.”

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