MIPIM: How is Argent encouraging sustainable development in the UK?
David: We have been looking to create sustainable pieces of city for over 20 years now. Sustainability means many things – and more than just from an environmental point of view. It starts with transport – more energy is wasted on travel than on buildings, so locating developments adjacent to great transport infrastructure is fundamental, and we have been doing this obviously at King’s Cross (which is arguably the most accessible place in London) and at Piccadilly in Manchester and more recently, Paradise in Birmingham. The second aspect is around creating mixed communities, places to live, to work and to visit, and places which deliver shared social value not just to those who have offices or buy homes in the new developments we create, but also to the surrounding area and the cities in which we work. Finally, environmental sustainability is built into the design of everything we do, from the BREEAM Outstanding offices we have delivered right through to the district-wide tri-generation Energy Centre which we have built at King’s Cross.
Picture 1: The opening of Pancras Square, King’s Cross
MIPIM: As managing partner at Argent, you have overall responsibility for all Argent business, overseeing the sourcing, masterplanning, building design, financing and legal aspects for all projects. Can you please tell us more about how you work with local governments – specifically, as a joint venture partner?
The word partnership is fundamental – we have been working in this way on all of our major projects in Birmingham, Manchester and London. The key is to seek out and lock into shared and mutually valued out-comes, to create alignment of interests from the start of the sort of long term arrangements which are vital to deliver large scale, city centre developments. This need not necessarily be just about money, and appropriate sharing of risk and reward – equally important are shared aspirations for addressing social issues – cleanliness and safety; opportunity for the existing community; schools and jobs; care, fitness and health; as well as a bit of culture and fun.
Picture 2: Paradise Chamberlain Square
MIPIM: What’s next for Argent?
The work we have done over the last 20 odd years throughout the UK has given Argent an un-rivalled platform to explore and engender the next generation of projects. We have also just signed up a partnership with the Related Group from Manhattan, the organisation who are developing the massive Hudson yards project there, at the top of the High Line.
Together we have the long term capability, experience and funds to address some of the key issues facing us all in the property sector – the redevelopment of brownfield land; the provision of housing (at all ends of the spectrum/market and for all tenures); the need for a revolution in affordable housing provision, and the establishment of an institutionally backed Build to Rent market; the next generation of workspaces for the way that businesses (and the people who work in them) are evolving; and the creation of new, accessible communities in our major cities.
We are currently exploring this agenda at Brent Cross, Tottenham, and elsewhere around London and in Manchester.
David joined Argent in 1990, he was appointed Joint Chief Executive in 2006 and Managing Partner of the new Argent LLP, in 2012. He is President of the British Council for Offices and sits on the Policy Committee of the British Property Federation and on the Advisory Board for the UKTI’s Regeneration Investment Organisation (RIO). He was one of the founding members and now ex-Chairman of both the Piccadilly Partnership in Manchester and the King’s Cross and St Pancras Business Partnership Ltd and is ex-Chairman of CityCo in Manchester.
David read architecture at Cambridge and is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and has served on a number of RIBA practice committees. In April 2014, David jointly won the Property Week Personality of the Year Award with Roger Madelin.
Images credit: www.argentllp.co.uk