Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.


Sunday Times: Peel Holding Hammerson by its ...

"A secretive property billionaire has amassed a significant stake in Hammerson, the FTSE 100 owner of shopping centres such as Brent Cross in London and Grand Central in Birmingham.

"John Whittaker, who developed the Trafford Centre near Manchester, has built a 4.6% stake in Hammerson through his private empire Peel Holdings. The holding is worth £213m at the current share price. A source close to Whittaker said he saw the listed property sector as 'cheap' given the drop in share prices since last year's EU vote, but his move is likely to fuel speculation over long-awaited consolidation in the industry.

"Whittaker owns 27% of Hammerson's nearest rival, Intu Properties, and serves as its deputy chairman."

The Observer: "Decent homes for all… Has the social housing dream died?"

"In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it is clear that Britain’s social housing is in crisis. As a new film looks at the legacy of Thatcher’s right-to-buy, Rowan Moore asks whether the postwar housing ideal can be revived. Below: David Harewood, Kerry Hudson and others on their experiences of council estate living"

Link to web site

"Before catastrophe hit Grenfell Tower, it had been planned to publish this feature last weekend. Then, in the immediate aftermath, it was clear that this would be the wrong thing to do, to talk about related but not-identical issues of public housing. It would have been at once too close to the news about Grenfell and not close enough. Now, although the horror is still raw and much about it is still unknown, it has also become clear that Grenfell exposes in the harshest possible way questions of the current state of social housing, about the accessibility, affordability and quality of homes, and their impact on people's lives.

"As is reported today, research by Shelter shows that a million households are at risk of homelessness unless a freeze on housing benefit is lifted.

"Absurdly, local authorities are now having to pay high rents to house people in homes the councils once owned.

"These questions, which are the subject of the new documentary Dispossession: The Great Housing Swindle, were already urgent. The election, with its upending of Conservative complacencies and old assumptions, increases the chances that the issues will be addressed with at least some of the radicalism they require. Given the newfound power of the youth vote, the group worst affected by the housing crisis, a large electoral prize awaits the party who can get this subject right. Dispossession offers few solutions, but it adds to the buildup of anger on the subject, without which nothing will change."


The Guardian: "London mayor considers pay-per-mile road pricing and ban on new parking" (during Brent Cross planning, Barnet has had an OFFICIAL policy of "roads, roads, roads and roads")

"Sadiq Khan wants to cut 3m car journeys a day and encourage cycling and walking in effort to reduce congestion and air pollution"

Link to web site

"London is to consider pay-per-mile road pricing and banning car parking in new developments under plans to cut 3m car journeys a day in the capital.

"A transport strategy to be published on Wednesday by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, will set targets to ensure 80% of journeys are made by public transport, walking or cycling.
"As London's population is set to increase beyond 10 million, our future health and prosperity is more and more dependent on us reducing our reliance on cars.

"We have to be ambitious in changing how our city works. While there will be 5m additional journeys being made across our transport network by 2041, at the same time we're setting ourselves a bold target of reducing car journeys by 3m every day."


People Parking Bay

Link to web site

"When Brenda Puech - who does not have a car - tried to pay online for an annual parking permit in Hackney she found there were no options for planting a bench, plants or cycle stands in a parking bay. So she emailed parking services to ask if she could make her payment in person. The answer was a definite No. She could not have a permit for parking anything other than a car. With an engine.

"So, she decided to go ahead anyway, to show how the space could be used something other than for parking a car.

"On Friday 26 May, she [transformed] a car parking bay in Hackney into a 'people parking bay'. Instead of a car she [has] placed items where people can park themselves (a bench), their shopping and bags (a table), their cycles (bike stands) and their eyes on plants and flowers."


[Reposted] Sat 24 June: Independent Community Planning at Old Oak and Park Royal (not having to fight Barnet's arrogant, incompetent and corrupt Brent Cross Cricklewood behaviour)

Municipal Dreams: "Grenfell Tower"

Link to web site

"For almost four decades, we have been taught to see public spending as a bad thing; ruthless economising as a virtue.  We have come to know the price of everything and the value of nothing…and have ended with the funeral pyre of Grenfell Tower.

"Three days after the night of Wednesday 14 June, I still haven’t written anything about Grenfell Tower.  I’ve been trying to process the tragedy emotionally and intellectually. Even the pronoun jars.  This is – or should be – all about the pain and anger felt by the victims of the tower block fire. Those feelings are shared by many but have been appropriated by a few to fit their existing worldviews, to serve pre-existing agenda. In the meantime, it seems every journalist has become an expert, every pundit has their opinion.

"I do know a bit about social housing but I'm certainly not an expert on all the issues raised by Grenfell Tower.  This is an attempt to look at some of the questions raised and to query some of the responses already emerging."


Transport Network "Estates without footways, homes without transport"

Link to web site

"The discussion [at a meeting of Foundation for Integrated Transport] turned to the question of why transport and new homes are not meshed together in terms of funding and planning.

"Ms Raggett argued that the most important part of the spatial planning system that creates such places was the strategic housing market assessment, which bases decisions on expected population trends, 'whereas geography doesn’t really come into it. At each stage of the planning system, transport isn't really there. The trouble is transport is added on after the location is decided and then funding is a complete nightmare.'

"She acknowledged that the issue was a disconnect between planning and transport funding. Planners now their jobs but cannot get the funding, she said. As for how the situation can be improved: 'Plan new homes and transport together with co-ordinated funding.'

"Paul Crick, vice chair of the ADEPT transport board, agreed that transport is too often added in afterwards – which is too late to change people's travel patterns. Infrastructure needs to be put in upfront – at the very start, he argued."


The Guardian: "'An embarrassment to the city': what went wrong with the £725m gateway to Brent Cross. Er, sorry, Cambridge?"

Link to web site

" 'A remarkable opportunity,' is how architect Richard Rogers described his £725m vision to design an entirely new gateway to Cambridge. Twelve years on, the result has been called 'rubbish', 'unfit' and 'soulless' by local residents, not to mention being accused of 'designing in crime', after a rise in antisocial behaviour and a wave of 'pop-up brothels'.

"... It is hard to believe how this handsome city's flagship scheme – masterminded by one of the country's most feted architects and just a stone’s throw from the Stirling prize-winning Accordia housing development, could have gone quite so wrong. The answers can be found in its chequered history. The project began life in 2004, when local housebuilder Ashwell Property Group appointed the Richard Rogers Partnership to develop an outline plan for a new 'business and cultural centre' on a 10-hectare site around the station.

"A year later, the plans were unveiled to breathless coverage in the local paper, with a double-page spread featuring the promised bounty of a 'proper transport interchange', affordable housing, healthcare facilities and a new heritage centre, which was planned to be housed in a majestic old grain silo next to the station. 'This is just the sort of infrastructure development we need so desperately,' said its editorial. 'Having an architect of the calibre of Lord Rogers on board is a real plus'."


The Observer: "Are cheap car loans the vehicle taking us to the next financial crash?"

Vroom to web site

"A decade ago it was sub-prime mortgages. Could it be sub-prime car loans this time? Cheap finance, the economic spectre of the age, has underpinned much of Britain’s growth over the past three years and there has been no bigger beneficiary of this debt-fuelled largesse than the car industry. But this four-wheeled binge, which reached a record £31.6bn in car loans last year, could have consequences if it veers off the road.

"... The car financing industry is confident that this new breed of ultra-low-cost loans, which account for 82% of all new car registrations and are known as personal contract plans (PCPs), are a safe and secure way of financing new cars. It says sub-prime lenders, who offer loans to people with erratic incomes and damaged credit ratings, account for only 3% of the market and the industry can cope with any destabilising events coming down the track.

"Some experts are not so sure."



"We continue our exploration of disused railways by heading west from Mill Hill East along greenways to Edgware. Meet 11-45am outside Mill Hill East tube station.

"Everything is looking very green and lovely at the moment and this is another pretty walk in a completely different direction to the last two. In the 1930s it was planned to extend the Northern Line out through Edgware, Brockley Hill and Elstree to Bushey Heath. Although most of the work was completed the line never opened. We will pick up the track at Mill Hill East and follow it through Copthall to Mill Hill Park where we will stop for a packed lunch. We will then go on to the cafe for a quick tea stop. This will also be the only public toilet we pass on our route.

"After lunch/tea stop we head to Woodcroft Park, and nearby Lyndhurst Park where we follow the line to the Old Railway Nature Reserve which leads to Edgware where we hit a dead end - the line is blocked here by a large underground depot and sidings. So, we will pick up the nearby Silk Stream and follow it through greenways, footpaths and Watling Park to Burnt Oak for the finsish. Total distance is 4.3 miles. We will catch the 114 bus back to Mill Hill Broadway and the 221 back to Mill Hill East. The 221 goes on to Woodside Park, North Finchley, Friern Barnet and New Southgate.

"There are drop out points at almost every point of this walk, and it is virtually flat all the way, so it should be suitable for nearly everyone. Don't forget to bring: packed lunch, water and buss pass/oyster card on the day."


Barnet Times: Finchley and Golders Green's Green candidate is against the Brent Cross 'mega shopping centre'

Link to web site

"The Green Party's Adele Ward believes air pollution around schools and 'wrong developments in the wrong places' are crucially important issues facing Finchley and Golders Green residents.

"... Ms Ward spoke out against the 'mega shopping centre' coming to Brent Cross, the P B Donoghue site in Claremont Road and the covered bus shelter in the Golders Green station regeneration as detrimental to health.

"... On Brent Cross, Ms Ward believes a better way to serve the community is to build a smaller centre to reduce pollution and save the Whitefields estate."


Barnet Times: " 'I do deliver [Brent Cross]': Conservative candidate for Finchley and Golders Green speaks out ahead of polling day"

Link to web site

"Mike Freer, a former Barnet Council leader and councillor, said sometimes local issues can be 'drowned out' by national messaging, though fewer people are talking about Brexit than he expected.

"... Mr Freer has also worked towards 'securing the future of Brent Cross' in the Brent Cross development.

"... He said: 'People know when I get my teeth stuck into something I don't give up, and do deliver'."

[We'll see, we'll see.]


Retail Gazette: "Outlet Stores: How the sector went from feared to fashionable"

"London Designer Outlet (LDO) is a prime example of the new wave of outlet centres, situated next to Wembley Stadium inside Greater London, with stores representing some of the country’s biggest brands.

"... Although LDO clearly has advantages over outlet centres positioned outside of high density areas for attracting tourists, there is an intrinsic quality of the outlet store model which puts traditional retailers on the back foot.

"... 'Increasingly people want a kind of shopping, dining, leisure, experience when they come out in a quality environment. So, our marketing team work hard to put together events throughout the year that give people a fairly compelling reason to want to come here, as oppose to going to Westfield or Brent Cross up the road,."

BBC: "The day cyclists rule the roads"

"How do you make space for recreation in dense cities where it appears there is no space to be had?

"One city in South America may have the answer."


Barnet Times: " 'Behind our backs': campaigners speak out as council sign lease with waste management firm in Cricklewood"

Link to web site

"Campaigners feel 'betrayed' after a lease for two properties was granted to a waste management company despite protesters' objections."

P B Donoghue, a waste management and skip hire company, will lease two units and yard space in Claremont Way Industrial Estate from Barnet Council.

"Campaigners recently protested for the company’s removal from a site it owns in Claremont Road, Golders Green, complaining of air and noise pollution."


The Compulsory Purchase Association (you MUST become a member)

CPA National Conference 2017
Thursday 22nd June 2017

Registration 9.30; Start 10.00; Close 17.00
Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS
5.5 Hours CPD

The CPA National Conference seeks to brief members and other delegates on key issues and topics within the sector, providing valuable CPD [?] for all those engaged in CPO and land compensation work.

With the provision of infrastructure and housing at the top of Government’s agenda, demand for the services of compulsory purchase and compensation practitioners continues to increase. HS2, Crossrail 2, Heathrow Terminal 5 and the garden villages/ towns programme currently grab the headlines, but across the country there are hundreds of projects that demand the skills of those with an understanding of how to implement and advise on CPOs.

At the same time the pace of CPO reform is accelerating. Following hard on the heels of the changes introduced by the Housing and Planning Act 2016, fundamental alterations to temporary possession powers and the ‘no-scheme principle’ have been introduced in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill. With a new Housing Bill also likely this year, further reform is possible.

There has never been a more urgent need to keep up to date with rapidly developing law and practice.

The CPA National Conference brings together members and non members alike. With over 250 attendees at last year’s conference, it is a major networking event in the CPO calendar and a pre-eminent programme to attract the very best in the CPO world.

If you do CPO work, then this is a must attend event; both for networking and technical knowledge.

Programme: Confirmed to date
  • Keynote - to be confirmed
  • The new lending code for dealing with negative equity
      • The law as it stands- crystalising the debt on compulsory acquisition
      • Problems with the existing system for claimants and acquiring authorities
      • Transferring mortgages to a new property
      • When does the new Code apply and what does it do?
  • Application of Human Rights, Government Guidance, and best practice for Compulsory acquisition 
      • Relocation and locality
  • Access to justice
      • The costs of the compensation claims in the Upper Tribunal
      • Does ADR have a role?
      • What forms of ADR should be considered?
  • Infrastructure Real Estate Projects In Canada’s Capital City, Ottawa
      • An introduction
      • A blend of US practice with a bit of Victorian UK law thrown in
      • Acquisition Strategy For Right Of Way Projects, e.g. Light Rail Transit and Combined Sewer Storage Tunnel 
      • The use of a public private partnership for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park 
  • Use it or lose it - The compulsory acquisition of residential development land
      • Birmingham and Manchester have plans
      • Planning Officers Society’s proposals
      • A disincentive for developers purchasing land?
      • Can such land acquisition satisfy the “compelling case in the public interest” test?
      • Will this really speed up housing delivery?
  • Legal update 
  • Heathrow case study
      • This is the scheme
      • Threats, key frustrations
      • We are not focusing on the merits of the scheme, simply the application of CPO rules into a highly contentious and politically charged environment
      • Key focus: the reasoning behind the 125% valuation and dropping the previous HOSS scheme would be of great interest to members and inform the debate on blight mitigation.
      • Operating in a regulatory environment
  • Neighbourhood Planning Bill and the scheme rules.

Speakers: Confirmed to date

Matthew Collings, Eversheds
Colin Cottage, CPA Chair, Glenny LLP
Jonathan Deegan, Heathrow Airport Ltd
Killian Garvey, Kings Chambers
Richard Guyatt, Bond Dickinson
Craig Howell Williams QC, Francis Taylor Building
Mike Kiely, Chair, Planning Officers Society
Gordon MacNair, Corporate Real Estate Office, City of Ottawa
Adrian Maher, aspireCP
Liz Peace, British Property Federation
Vicky Fowler, CPA Vice Chair and Gowlings WLG (UK) LLP
Toni Weston, Gowlings WLG (UK) LLP


Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation: AECOM appointed as OPDC's Old Oak Masterplanner. (Already they are Brent Cross's transport planners - presumably not with the 29,000 extra cars per day promised for the Brent Cross area.)

"Following an OJEU-compliant [that's COMPLIANT, not COMPLAINT!] procurement process, the seven short-listed bids have been evaluated and the preferred bidder is AECOM.

The objectives of the Old Oak masterplanning contract are:

  • To create a masterplan that is deliverable and reflects the quality and sustainability aspirations set out in the OPDC draft Local Plan and supporting studies.
  • To create a masterplan that will establish a new benchmark for successful long-term placemaking in Old Oak, west London.
  • To establish an overarching approach for the delivery of the Old Oak area shared by partners and stakeholders, which delivers social and economic benefits for local communities.
  • To inform OPDC planning policy.

Forecasted timeline and key milestones:

  • OJEU Standstill period — 12-22 May 2017
  • Contract start and mobilisation — May/June 2017
  • Visioning and baseline analysis — Summer 2017
  • Longlist, shortlist options (incl. engagement with stakeholders) — Autumn 2017
  • Preferred option refinement, first draft strategies — Early 2018
  • Final deliverables: spatial masterplan, phasing, transport, commercial and residential strategies — Spring 2018

The Old Oak masterplanning contract will allow for:

  • Greater certainty for landowners, investors and stakeholders on how and when the area will be developed.
  • The development of a clear delivery strategy, funding and financing strategy, land assembly strategy and business plan for OPDC as a future landowner.
  • Clarity and consensus on what key site wide infrastructure is needed and where it would be located to allow for procurement and investment.
  • A site wide approach to development, creating synergies between different landowners schemes.

Background on OPDC and scale of opportunity

"Old Oak and Park Royal is London’s largest Opportunity Area with a new High Speed 2 (HS2) and Crossrail Station due to be constructed at Old Oak by 2026.

"Redevelopment of the area has the potential to deliver 24,000 new homes and 55,000 jobs in Old Oak and 1,500 new homes and 10,000 jobs on the adjoining Park Royal industrial estate.

"OPDC was established in April 2015 to drive forward future development plans for the wider area.

"OPDC has full planning powers within its 650 hectare boundary that includes land in the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent."


Argent Related: Brent Cross is high risk. Better concentrate on Tottenham Hale...

Link to 'This is Local London'

"Tottenham Hale regeneration plans have moved a step closer with the signing of a partnership between a leading development company and Haringey Council.

The agreed framework with Argent Related details the building of 900 homes over the next five years, some of which could be completed by 2020.

"Community groups, schools and businesses could soon be invited to talks with both the company and council, where feedback on various aspects of the framework will be encouraged.

"Leader of Haringey Council, councillor Claire Kober, said: 'This is a significant milestones in our ambitious plans for Tottenham Hale'."

Brent & Kilburn Times: "Community protest in Cricklewood for waste company to relocate"

Link to web site

Communities living near a waste site in Cricklewood are campaigning for the relocation of a waste firm as they battle daily against smells and dust.

"More than a hundred people gathered outside P.B Donoghue in Claremont Road armed with banners and chants on 28 April saying 'Dump Donoghue'.

"Lisa Pate, from the Golders Green Estate Residents Association, said:
"It used to be a just skip hire and now they go and get the waste from different industrial sites and bring it back. It's tons and tons a day, hundreds of HGV movements a day."


IPE Real Estate: "Retail UK: Lights out at the mall" (Alas poor Hammerson!)

"Shopping centres specialists have been investing heavily in a changing world. But the outlook for the sector still looks gloomy."

"The rise of modern in-town shopping centres in the UK first gained traction in the 1960s with schemes such as the Bull Ring in Birmingham (which was redeveloped in 2003), and out-of-town schemes in the 1970s such as Brent Cross in North London. The explosion of development since then is the direct result of a shift in shopping habits favouring shopping centres over traditional high streets, many of which have been displaced.

"Good-quality UK shopping centres have long been favoured by investors wanting exposure to landlord-friendly leases providing stable income streams. Leading up to the Great Recession, shopping centres experienced three decades of almost uninterrupted growth, during which London offices rents were both volatile and range-bound.

"However, this trend in rental growth has slowed and may even be reversing, as physical retail sales growth and tenant densities have stalled for the better part of a decade. The change in fortune for physical retail was initially driven by a fall in disposable incomes resulting from the global financial crisis. But the deeper rooted – and more serious – issue is the disruption caused by growth in e-commerce."

Treasury to give pots of money to dig Barnet out of "New Cricklewood" (=source: Hammerson) Thameslink Station hole. (And nothing for Boris's platforms to Old Oak Common)

What we will actually get:

(That's enough blow-back from Barnet's corrupt Brent Cross Cricklewood planning consent. Ed.)

Boris's aspirations:


The Observer: "BHS crash sets trend for a chain of closures on UK high streets" (Hammerson thinks it is up-market from all the failing riff-raff)

"The retail sector is still reeling a year after the collapse of the chain, with rising numbers of staff on zero-hours contracts and other big hitters shutting shop as the internet squeezes their share of profits"

Link to web site

"Last year, research by industry trade body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) identified a 'lost generation' of predominantly female shop workers who – as thousands of BHS staff would find out – risk losing their jobs as structural change chews up the high street. It estimated there were nearly 500,000 retail workers, aged between 26 and 45, many of whom have children and need to work close to their family home, who would find it hard to find alternative jobs.

"Using the benchmark of those earning less than £8.05 an hour, the BRC says 1.5 million people work in low-paid UK retail jobs. About 70% are female and one in five receive means-tested working age tax credits.

"Norman Pickavance, chair of the Fabian Society taskforce on the future of retail, says the majority of companies in the sector are trying to save money by moving towards less secure employment models. 'There are more and more zero-hours-type contracts and self employment,' he says."


Development Finance Today: "Hammerson secures £360m facility from 14-bank syndicate"

Link to web site

"Commercial developer Hammerson has signed a £360m unsecured revolving credit facility (RCF) with a syndicate of 14 international banks.

"The new facility, which was secured at an initial margin of 90 basis points, has a maturity of five years – with an option to extend up to seven – and will refinance an existing £175m RCF maturing in April 2018.

"RBS [oh dear], Wells Fargo Bank, BNP Paribas, First Commercial Bank, IBC (London) and J.P Morgan served as mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners for the deal."


Estates Gazette: Hammerson: "Retailers must do more to tackle climate change"

"The Paris Climate Change Agreement reached at COP 21 acknowledges the importance of keeping climate change to within 2C and provided rarely-seen, unified international political support for action on climate change.

"Unfortunately, all the research shows that what we are currently doing is simply not enough to achieve this. If all the sustainability-aware corporates hit published sustainability targets, we will still overshoot 2C of climate change. It therefore makes sense for those who are in a position to do so, to consider the potential sustainability risks that may impact their own operations, and identify areas where they can enact the most positive change. Furthermore, it is not enough anymore for businesses to draw a boundary around what we directly control and claim everything outside that is not our responsibility. We must consider ways to bring others on board and account for broader sector impacts too.

"Hammerson's response is to set a comprehensive Net Positive target for the business. In addition to its substantial Socio-Economic Net Positive goals, it has the objective of reducing carbon emissions, water demand and resource use to less than zero over the next 15 years." [Shame Brent Cross is such an environmental disaster, then.]


"... [National transport] policy no longer places 'Predict and Provide' for commuter car driver convenience as a high priority, yet this is the approach [of Hammerson at Brent Cross Cricklewood]"

Hammerson is in as much difficulty in Croydon as at Brent Cross. Boo, hoo!

Link to web site

"It is five years since rival developers Westfield and Hammerson were brought together by Tory politicians Boris Johnson and Gavin Barwell in a shot-gun marriage of convenience over their conflicting plans for the Whitgift Centre and Centrale, sited opposite sides of North End [Road].

"Then, under the banner of the Croydon Partnership, the Hammersfield scheme was to include 2million sq ft of new shop space, 600 homes and 'destination' leisure facilities."

"... In February, Hammerson announced it would sell at least £400million of its interests in the shopping centres it already owns to help pay towards the Croydon development.

"And last month, Westfield bought a 3 per cent stake in Hammerson – around £135million-worth of shares – amid talk of 'leverage', which usually means a way of applying pressure on a company."

The Curious Case of The Corruption That Didn't Happen


The Guardian: "It’s no longer just London: now Britain is encircled by the property sharks"

"Once the capital was the prime target for foreign speculators, now it’s all our major cities. We could have stopped them, but we didn't"

Link to web site

"A single generation transformed London into a capital where no person with normal resources could hope to own a modest home. It transformed London into a city where young people couldn’t start their careers, unless they had parents who could help them out. It transformed London into a place where every flat was in a block of 'luxury apartments', its price arranged in some weird dimension that had absolutely no connection to the wages paid at the coffee shop on the ground floor.

"Everyone knew what the problem was. Property prices had exploded, fuelled by international wealth. The government was reluctant to halt the bonanza. It made people who already owned property in London feel rich, confident and willing to keep on spending. The party continued.

"Exploding property prices meant property became an even more attractive investment, the best investment of all. You could buy a property, let it, and have a healthy income as well as a huge capital gain. Or not even bother to let it. What were, to some, crazily unaffordable rents were, to others, mere peanuts, not worth the smallest amount of hassle."


Evening Standard: "Driverless shuttle bus to be tested by public in London for first time"

Link to web site

"A driverless shuttle bus is to hit the streets of London in the first extended trial of its kind in the UK.

"About 100 people will travel in a prototype shuttle – known as Harry after clockmaker John Harrison – on a route in North Greenwich over the next three weeks."


'The Brent Cross Railway', nine years on. (Superseded by London Overground from Old Oak Common, and a North London tram system?)

Sun 23 April: Northern Heights Walk

[Reposted from Jan 2016] Evening Standard: "Architect Sir Terry Farrell's master plan for the regeneration of Brent Cross and Cricklewood includes a new shopping district." (The roof is built of nano-particles, and is unaffected by falling icicles or the weight of snow.)

"A £4.5 billion redevelopment of railway lands at Brent Cross and Cricklewood is bringing 7,500 homes, three new schools, four parks and a new Thameslink station, offering a 12-minute commute to central London.

The 20-year project is soon to start. It will create a new town centre for the area, including a high street leading to a revamped shopping district at Brent Cross. The high street will pass through new public squares and over a 'living bridge' — a new cycle and pedestrian crossing over North Circular Road.

The railway looms large in Cricklewood's history and topography. The area came of age in the 1880s when Midland Railway moved its locomotive works from Kentish Town to the new Brent Sidings and built an estate of railway cottages, now coveted private homes, for its workers.

Today it attracts people who have outgrown their Kilburn or West Hampstead flat and want more space for their money, as they seek to settle down in a good-value family house with a credible-sounding postcode less than four miles from Marble Arch. Cricklewood numbers former London mayor Ken Livingstone among its residents.

As a general rule, prices sag in the centre of Cricklewood, and rise expectantly towards its borders with Barnet, Brent and Hendon.

Check out the quieter streets and conservation areas either side of the bustling Broadway, including Mapesbury Estate and 'the Groves' — Yew Grove, Elm Grove and Ash Grove — plus roads surrounding 86-acre Gladstone Park, close to Dollis Hill."