A brand new station will open in 2022 at Brent Cross West, as part of Barnet Council’s ambitious project to create a sustainable community in north London.
Timber frames and biodiversity are not two words you immediately associate with railway stations. But they are the most striking features of Brent Cross West’s eastern entrance, which has received planning consent from Barnet Council.
The new station is an essential part of the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration programme. Almost uniquely, the new station programme is being led by the council. It will provide vital connectivity to London’s new park town, Brent Cross Town, which is a joint venture between Argent Related and Barnet Council. The design of the station’s eastern entrance reflects the scheme’s wider vision, which has sustainability, inclusivity, and localism at its heart.
That extends to everything from the materials used to build Brent Cross West, to using natural light and ventilation to ensure it uses less energy, to linking with other sustainable transport networks.
Barnet Council and developer Argent Related explained how they have worked together to create plans for a station, and a community, ready to embrace the 21st century.
A green gateway
The main works at Brent Cross West station are scheduled for completion in 2022, and approval of the eastern entrance is another major milestone on the project. Architects Studio Egret West have devised a light and airy design which will emphasise safety and comfort while being highly attractive, with a roof canopy of glazed panels resting on timber columns.
Vines will be connected to ground floor planters by a wire trellis system, and ornamental trees will sit in the entranceway, as part of a wider vision for extensive planting and other ecological enhancements throughout the station.
A planned glazed canopy at the entrance will maximise the amount of natural light which enters the building, while natural ventilation from the proposed open-sided construction will ensure there are no requirements for mechanical ventilation.
And the proposed use of glulam timber provides a sustainable alternative to steel or concrete for the construction of the roof, as it consumes less energy during the manufacturing process.
Councillor Daniel Thomas, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “The eastern entrance will link the new Brent Cross West Station to Brent Cross Town providing an impressive welcome to Barnet’s newest high street with its stunning sustainable design.
“We’re striving to build a new community with world class facilities that are fit for the future, recognising the challenges that lie ahead of us in the 21st century. It is not enough for Brent Cross West to be a gateway to central London and to the world. The station has to reflect the council’s wider vision for sustainability, inclusivity, and localism.
“I believe the eastern entrance does that, and that it will also have a real ‘wow’ factor when people walk in.”
Brent Cross Town embraces its environment
For visitors who arrive at Brent Cross West, the station will give them an immediate sense of what they can expect from the new area. Because unlike similar developments elsewhere, existing residents will gain rather than lose green space, as Brent Cross Town will incorporate 50 acres of parks and playing fields, including eight public squares, and seven new and improved parks.
There will also be a guided visitor trail, benches and picnic tables, a pond, and landscaped pedestrian and cycle routes. Indoor facilities will also offer vital open space for play and sport for people of all ages.
Throughout the town centre there will be trees and other greenery planted, encouraging greater biodiversity whilst protecting the local environment and wildlife habitats. This will also contribute to better air quality and reduce carbon emissions overall.
Even the use of timber frames isn’t limited to the train station. Developer Argent Related is exploring the option of building the new offices with a product known as cross-laminated timber (CLT), which involves layers of wooden boards glued together in a cross-hatch pattern. These boards are then pressed and precision-cut into panels which are virtually as strong as steel and concrete but up to 80% lighter. They also survive high temperature better than steel and can still retain a hint of forest in their aroma.
And a deal has been signed with Vattenfall Heat UK to provide low-carbon heating to homes, shops, and other businesses across the development. The 8MW district heating system will be the largest installation of its kind in the UK, and the firm will work with Barnet Council and developer Argent Related with a view to eventually removing all CO2 emitting sources.
From construction onwards, this is a project with a commitment to both the local environment and our planet.
Localism and inclusivity
The station’s construction also reflects another two key pillars of the wider scheme, with its emphasis on localism and inclusivity. 20 per cent of the people working on the station build are residents of Barnet, Brent, and Camden boroughs. And the completed station will offer step-free access from street level to the platforms for anyone with mobility issues, as well as platform humps that level the boarding points to the trains on the platforms.
Brent Cross Town will be a ‘15-Minute Town,’ a new concept where people can work, shop, play and learn all within a 15-minute local radius. That might seem like a natural conclusion to draw from the challenges of the COVID pandemic, but Brent Cross Town has been designed to provide everything people need from the very beginning.
Local good causes are being supported even now with the Brent Cross Town Community Fund. So far 19 projects have shared £55,000 which has been invested in improving and celebrating and improving Brent Cross and Cricklewood, with 7,834 people benefitting from this support. Organisations which have benefitted include schools, food banks, outreach programmes for vulnerable groups, and a community farm.
Even the sports facilities tie back into inclusivity, with organisations such as Women In Sport and Sported being consulted to ensure that everyone benefits from the range of initiatives.
Beyond rail – and beyond 2022
While improved rail links are a key part of making transport sustainable in the 21st century, Barnet Council recognise the importance of integrating rail with other forms of sustainable and environmentally-friendly transport.
The eastern entrance building will offer cycle parking for 68 bikes, while a new overbridge will offer a pedestrian and cycle route across the Midland Main Line for the first time since it was built 150 years ago.
And the entrance will open into the transport interchange in the Station Quarter, which is planned to feature bus stops, motorcycle parking spaces, bicycle stands, taxi stands, and both short stay and drop-off parking spaces. Details are to come forward for detailed approval shortly.
Once again, this reflects the goals of the wider Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration programme. New pathways, an improved network of walking and cycling routes to support sustainable travel, improved bus routes, and new roads that are designed to slow traffic and prioritise pedestrians, are all key aspects of Brent Cross Town’s design. Provision is being made not just for electric charging but for other technologies as they emerge to create the infrastructure for people to take up more sustainable forms of transport.
But ultimately a train station will succeed on whether it offers the connectivity which a community needs. The new jobs, office space which suits 21st century needs, and new town centre, will only thrive if Brent Cross West can bring central London ever-closer. Barnet Council are confident that it will, and that the economic benefits will be felt for decades to come.
Councillor Thomas said: “The station will provide a gateway for new and existing communities to central London, two international airports and link to Eurostar services. Over the next two years Barnet Council, VolkerFitzpatrick and Argent Related will continue to work hard on construction, bringing the station opening closer to reality.”
Nick Searl, Partner of Argent Related and Joint-Lead for Brent Cross Town, added: “Securing consent for the new eastern entrance of the station is a key step in delivering the very best connectivity to the new town centre. Just 12 minutes from Central London, Brent Cross Town will become a new hub for North London, with many people, beyond just the surrounding communities, benefitting from Brent Cross West and its connections to the rest of the UK.”
For more information about the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration programme visit transformingbx.co.uk
Brent Cross Town, at a glance:
- The Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration programme is the biggest redevelopment and growth programme Barnet Council has ever undertaken
- It is made up of three projects: Brent Cross Town, the Brent Cross London regeneration of the shopping centre, and Brent Cross West station. Outline planning permission was granted in 2010
- Overall, the project is expected to provide a huge economic boost both to Barnet and the wider London economy, providing up to 6,700 new homes, 3 million sq. ft of new offices generating up to 27,000 jobs, as well as improved schools, new parks and community facilities
- Brent Cross Town is committed to beating the UK government’s pledge to go carbon neutral by 2050, aiming instead for 2030 at the latest.
The new station, at a glance:
- Brent Cross West is planned to open in December 2022, will sit on the Midland Main Line between Hendon and Cricklewood
- The station will be London’s first major new mainline station in over a decade
- It will offer direct links to international flights from Heathrow and Luton airports, to Eurostar services from St Pancras, as well as to stations in Hertfordshire, Surrey, Kent, and Sussex
- The station is expected to see two million journeys in its first year, rising to five million by the time the regeneration scheme is completed in 2031, with up to eight trains per hour
- The Brent Cross West programme is being led by Barnet Council, with VolkerFitzpatrick awarded the contract to build the station, and Network Rail engaged to deliver the Rail Systems works.