Around 100 property professionals in Reading heard how flexibility allowed the massive King’s Cross regeneration to become a huge success.

Mike Lightbound, chief financial officer for developer Argent, told the February 7 meeting of the Reading Real Estate Network (RREN), hosted by Lambert Smith Hampton, Field Seymour Parkes, Barton Willmore and NatWest, how the 67 acres of one of the most deprived areas of London was transformed, even though the land was acquired at the time of the 2008 financial crash.

Mr Lightbound told delegates: “The key thing was having the flexibility to do U-turns and accept the project would get built out but maybe not to the same programme, or in the same sequence, or in the same way that we envisaged.”

Argent resisted the temptation to draw the scheme at first and, instead, carried out extensive engagement in the local area. The mixed-use development, said Mr Lightbound, needed to be a microcosm of London and not a gated community.

He added: “In terms of the masterplan for King’s Cross – and I think a lot of this is relevant to all development, certainly relevant to Reading – the flexibility is absolutely key.

“When you look at business today, it’s very fragmented, in terms of how some expand, some contract. Having that flexibility to respond to different occupiers was absolutely key.”

The Guardian, Google and Facebook are among occupiers attracted to the development.

During questions Mr Lightbound told guests he believes regional cities including Reading will benefit from the new generation of employees who want to own property but cannot afford to in London. “The fundamentals of Reading are very strong,” he said.

The meeting was held in the newly refurbished Carbon Building in King’s Road. Campbell Gordon director Keith Wise told delegates 26,000 sq ft is available along with 1,370 sq ft at Highbridge House next door.

Image: Top (l-r): Marcus Francis, partner at Field Seymour Parkes and host of the event, Mike Lightbound and Alan Edwards from the NatWest real estate team. Below: Delegates at the start of the meeting.

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