The Leader Magazine

MAR 2019

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working environments that support, engage and generate creativity – effective place-making cannot be ignored by corporations, nor the CRE sector alike. In fact, examples of effective place-making around the world demonstrate that the need for organisations to operate successfully on many levels has never been greater. That's especially true for ones with global ambitions, who need to connect, convene and collaborate with a broad network of partners to drive innovation and change. Such organisations have indelible links to their local communities and want to be good corporate citizens who not only contribute to their local area but integrate fully within it. These factors, coupled with fundamental changes in how, where and when we work, are forcing CRE to the strategic forefront and position it as a catalyst for driving real and lasting change across the organisation. White City: an exemplary model One such case is the re-development of White City in the UK, situated in a once-run-down, neglected area in West London, well-known in the past as the location of BBC Television's studios and offices, a dog-track, and the site of London's 1908 Olympic Games. The project required an innovative collaboration between two entities, the BBC and the UK's premier science and research university, Imperial College, to reinvigorate a 24.3-hectare (60-acre) site. In doing so they satisfied their respective occupational strategies whilst also adding significant value to their land holdings. As a result of this partnership, the overall regeneration of an entire neighbourhood was accelerated, putting White City back on the map as a great place to live, work and play. At that juncture in 2009, the BBC was deciding how to shape its portfolio-optimisation strategy for its enormous 35-acre (14-hectare) White City estate. The broadcasting corporation was also contending with a consensus in the property market that considered White City as a 'BBC desert' and, therefore, unappealing to other occupiers. It was also suggested by some leading firms of advisors and brokers that it would be difficult to dispose of its surplus properties, especially in the midst of the financial crash, which dampened commercial real estate at that time. The only option for the BBC seemed to be to mothball large swathes of real estate in London and hope for an improvement in the years to come. Doing so, however, was deemed to be too great a price to pay and so the real estate team were forced to contemplate unconventional options to derive value from the estate. In July 2012, the BBC agreed to sell the site to property developers and managers Stanhope Plc, known for their innovative approach in helping landowners maximise their real estate assets and realise enhanced value. In this way, the BBC and Stanhope formed a joint venture, known as Television Centre Developments, which was tasked to dispose of a 1-million-sq.- ft. (92,900-sq.-m.) landmark building used as TV studios, which the UK's Heritage Authority had listed for protection, to be redeveloped into residential properties. Also, the BBC's legacy will be protected by the fostering of a creative environment in White City. The process was aided considerably by the BBC's place-making experience built up during similar projects at Pacific Quay, the new BBC Scottish headquarters, and MediaCityUK in Salford, in north England. Imperial College, like the BBC, found itself coping with some significant challenges in its 102-year history, defined more by its need to maintain growth and innovation capacity in its existing, built-up Central London location, which was becoming increasingly unfit for purpose. Innovation is understandably fundamental to the success of any university, but especially those with a global reputation such as Imperial College. To maintain this leading position, it is vital that Imperial is able to collaborate effectively with other scientists and expert practitioners around the world. So attracting and retaining faculty talent, students and researchers was a paramount concern, along with the need to provide affordable accommodation in London. In this way, Imperial College became leading partner in the W12 Alliance to redevelop and regenerate White City alongside the BBC. Indeed, serendipity played a major part in fast-tracking the regeneration process when the Westfield shopping complex opened in 2008. This mall, owned by French-Australian consortium Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, attracts over 30 million people per year and has already added 740,000 sq. ft. (68,750 sq. m.) of retail and mixed-use space, 10 years after its opening. The centre now has over 360 retailers across its 2.6 million sq. ft. (241,548 sq. m.) of lettable space, making it the largest shopping centre in Europe. t he take-away The key lesson behind White City is that the synthesis of the BBC, Imperial College and Westfield Shopping Centre, as well as a variety of new high-end residential developments, has also attracted other global corporations to this once-depressed area of London. These companies offer scale, market power and even financial support to innovation projects in White City; they include Colt, Verizon, Virgin Media, Vodafone and, most recently, Swiss pharma leader Novartis. Also located there are Aerospace giant Airbus and the UK Government's Defence and Security Accelerator department, which is responsible for finding innovative solutions to key defence-related challenges in collaboration with Imperial College. It was beneficial that both BBC and Imperial concurred that these shared visions can lay the foundations for subsequent bonds to be forged between academics, entrepreneurs and corporate scientists. These bonds are then fortified in the various local amenities available in White City, including restaurants, shops, bars, cafes, gyms, cultural centres and green spaces. With the never-ending quest for innovation across the CRE sector, White City is an inspiring example of the active part occupiers and their CRE teams play in the place-making process. The opportunity exists where an end-user with land holdings to show leadership in the process and leverage their 'brand'. The key activity is to unify the diverse stakeholders, just as the BBC did in the White City neighbourhood, behind a shared vision. The innovation also comprises a different approach to the conventional process, underpinned by an alliance of occupiers who are determined to turbocharge the regeneration of an area. It's a project where institutions are committed to a long-term presence and can work together to try and build a world-class destination. It's a venture that has business at its heart and one in which all stakeholders strive to construct a 24/7 destination that people will want to live, work, shop and play in. The very nature of this alliance was fundamental to the regeneration of a depressed and unloved part of London. 1. Deyan Sudjic Shaping Cities in an Urban Age 2. Millennial Employment Statistics. BT Occupier Focus/Signal. 2018 3. Chris Kane and John Anderson, Creating Value, CoreNet Global Madrid 2018 Chris Kane is the founder and United Kingdom member of Six Ideas, a consulting agency for change strategies in the workplace. the leader March 2019 39

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