Estates Gazette – 17th November 2017
A partnership between British Land, Derwent London, European Land and Landsec in Paddington, W2, is creating a new standard for collaborative placemaking. The group, which are all developing offices in the area, are also co-investing in improving the surrounding public realm with initiatives
including a floating pocketpark, GoBoat river taxis, improved signage and superfast broadband.
As long-term investors, the placemaking strategy “supports the value of our existing assets and our future assets”, says Andrew Scrivener, chief executive of European Land. “It is a closed circle; so we invest in the location, the location invests in us.”
GoBoat London, the city’s first self-drive boating experience which allows groups of up to eight to hire a boat to relax or have floating meetings, launched this summer at Paddington Basin on the Grand Union Canal. “We sit down as a partnership on a quarterly basis and we share notes about what each of us are doing, and then we also actively engage in joint projects, which GoBoat is one of, in order to make a difference to the place as a whole,” Scrivener says.
A 7,850 sq ft floating park by garden designer Tony Woods of Garden Club London was also launched this summer, allowing office workers and the public to walk over the water on a series of decked platforms and walkways. As part of European Land’s placemaking strategy, it also offers free superfast broadband around the estate. “You step out of the office and if you want to relax, you can draw up your Netflix account… or you can come out in the middle of the afternoon and do productive work on the garden,” Scrivener says. European Land, the Reuben brothers’ and Jarvis family joint venture, owns and manages the 11-acre mixeduse neighbourhood, where it is currently delivering 2 Merchant Square, a 162,000 sq ft office building.
“When you rent 1,000 sq ft of offices in Merchant Square, you get 10 times as much space for free out in this external environment, so you don’t have to go and find another venue in order to find somewhere to be creative,” Scrivener says.
The park, which featured a series of pop-up events over the summer, is part of the partnership’s plan to create a “holistic space” where it can “add real value to the working environment through things that we are providing as part of the estate.”
The partnership has also improved signage in the area and connects all of its office occupiers through a corporate social responsibility programme. We live with the estate, we understand how people use the estate, what they want from the estate, we talk to people… see what they like and what they don’t like,” Scrivener says. “We can adjust our plans, because nothing should be set in stone. Just because you drew a plan 10 years ago doesn’t mean that you have to deliver that in 15 years’ time.
“These estates take a long time to build out and that [longterm interest] is the real benefit of what we’ve got here.”