A gateway to Europe (for some). A gateway to a darker side of our nation’s capital (for others). King’s Cross lies right at the heart of the UK’s economic and social history. It also provides a fascinating lens through which to imagine our future.
As a microcosm, what can this area and this redevelopment tell us about business growth now and into the future? How has it evolved and, more importantly, what can be discerned about the broader capital, country and continent it sits within, as far as growth and economic opportunity is concerned?
A Focus For Reinvention
The whole area has seen huge redevelopment over recent years. Sparked by the renovation of St Pancras into London’s Eurostar hub, the plaza surrounding King’s Cross station has transformed (almost) beyond recognition over the past two decades. King’s Cross station itself underwent a major redevelopment in the early 2010s at a cost of £650m (the land originally cost just £65,000 when the station opened in 1852).
The station now sees over 50m visitors a year and, viewed from one angle, represents an entire economy in its own right (compete with Platform 9 ¾ where millions of people have had their photo taken pushing a shopping trolley through a wall).
Most recently, Coal Drops Yard has opened 500 metres to the north, one of the world’s most exciting new mixed use shopping areas, complete with its Thomas Heatherwick centrepiece architecture (and highly controversial facial recognition security system).
Corporate head offices nearby include Universal Music, AutoTrader, BUPA, Expedia and The Guardian – and a company called Google (their landscaper right outside King’s Cross station will house up to 4,000 staff). Facebook are also about to move in, and the area is rapidly supplanting Silicon Roundabout as London’s Tech hub.
Imperial College London and UCL are both based here. As is the British Library. Seen more accurately, the square mile around King’s Cross represents one of Europe’s most vibrant cities – completely in its own right.
Three generations of White Space Strategy staff have shared their experiences and thoughts on this fascinating, highly complex area, drawing on their own personal reference points:
Managing Director, John Bee, imagines the globalised future of King’s Cross, and what this might mean for the UK.
Team Leader, Olie Lobo, relates the transformation that’s happened in the area to the broader need to transform infrastructure coming out of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Business Analyst, Lucy Cottee, lays out a vision for how the area around King’s Cross could use its influence to become a force for social good (and, by implication, how significant places around the world could do this, too.
David Alexander, CEO of Ford’s Quick Lane Europe business has also shared his views, alongside a much broader set of perspectives on future growth trends, levers and drivers, looking towards 2030.