King’s Cross Central, the giant redevelopment of railway lands behind the station, promises exciting, forward-thinking homes like no other in London.
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Early design details obtained by Homes & Property show apartments with rooftop allotments, glass-fronted flats within the framework of Victorian gasholders, and four-bedroom houses, called Lifetime Homes, reflecting planners' new emphasis on family living rather than small flats for the buy-to-let market.
'They are not isolated buildings but an integral part of the master plan'
Work is under way at the 67-acre site and the first of 2,000 new homes will be ready before the 2012 Olympics.
A new district is being built around what is Europe's biggest transport hub: 20 new streets and "home zones", 10 landscaped squares, revitalised canal banks, 25 new office buildings and 500,000 sq ft of retail and cultural space.
Twenty historic buildings, including listed railway sheds, are being restored. The scheme will have its own heating and electricity generation plant, boosting its green credentials. Community extras include a state-of-the-art primary school.
Every building will have a mix of tenures and architectural individuality, says Roger Madelin, chief executive of developer Argent.
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"To talk of residential accommodation in isolation is meaningless. The quality of accommodation is not just about world-class architecture but also about the place the buildings are part of. They are not isolated residential buildings thrown up on single plots but an integral part of the master plan. King's Cross Central is unashamedly mixed-use."
University of the Arts, which includes Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, will relocate to a new campus for 6,500 students in 2011. Already it is being touted as a new venue for London Fashion Week.
Sainsbury will move there from its Holborn headquarters in 2011.
Remarkably, 200 apartments, all for private sale, will be created within three 19th century gasholders, the first in the world to be built of cast iron, before the introduction of steel.
Madelin promises these homes will be "genuinely spectacular". He reports enquiries from several highprofile Londoners keen to reserve entire floors.
For such a huge site, the number of homes is relatively low, which may give extra cachet to the address.
'200 homes will be created within three 19th century gasholders'
About 40 per cent of the homes will be "affordable": a mix of shared ownership and rented units, with locals getting priority. Prices have yet to be fixed. Before the downturn, estate agent Hamptons predicted values of about £800 a sq ft (unthinkable for King's Cross only a few years ago). That figure now looks ambitious but achievable.
For more details, call 020 7734 3721, or visit www.kingscrosscentral.com.
The £5 billion project includes transformation of King's Cross train station and consolidates the dividend of the new Eurostar terminus at neighbouring St Pancras.
The area's residential draw has been raised to a new level of luxury with the conversion of the Midland Grand Hotel into apartments, now called St Pancras Chambers, by boutique developer Manhattan Loft Corporation. These are due for completion later this year. Flats bought off-plan three years ago are now reselling from £595,000. Call Hamptons on 020 7586 9595.
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"What's happening at King's Cross is awesome; the place is changing beyond recognition," says Fyfe McDade's Carl Schmid.
New contemporary-design penthouses at Rufford Mews are for rent at £350 to £600 a week.
Quaint but neglected Georgian streets off Gray's Inn Road, just south of King's Cross station, are also improving. New York art dealer Larry Gagosian has opened an art gallery in Britannia Street, a telltale sign. And development is smoothing the rough edges, with Barnsbury, Angel and Bloomsbury all likely to get a long-term boost from King's Cross Central.