Connecting is about providing assets which complement people’s lifestyles, enabling them to integrate their work and their leisure time.
It means places which are easy to access, so we focus on assets with great transport infrastructure and those with convenient access points or parking facilities. We often invest to improve connections for pedestrians and cyclists, and we build local relationships connecting with local communities to better understand their needs. We also think about how digitally enabled we are and how we can use these capabilities to create a closer community.
When Crossrail opens in 2018, it will transform rail transport in London and the South East, increasing central London rail capacity by 10%, and bringing an estimated 1.5 million more people to within 45 minutes of central London. Already, Crossrail is driving regeneration and economic development. Around £4 billion of our assets are located near Crossrail and two of our London campuses, Broadgate and Paddington, will have their own Crossrail stations. Canada Water, our 46-acre scheme in South London, is very close to Canary Wharf and, from 2018, will be just minutes from the West End.
We have shared our initial ideas for the Canada Water Masterplan with the local community. These include a 3.5 acre park, two new public squares, cycling and pedestrian friendly spaces and dockside improvements so people can enjoy and interact with the water and wildlife. We are also proposing a pedestrianised, open-air high street, with national and independent retailers alongside new restaurants and cafés and a new culture and entertainment hub, at the heart of the town centre. Our plans are at an early stage and will evolve, but creating a vibrant and engaging environment will be our key focus.
At Aldgate Place, designed by Allies and Morrison, we are reinstating an original pedestrian street link which sits above an old Victorian service tunnel connecting Aldgate and Aldgate East stations. This public thoroughfare will be reinvigorated with shops and cafés, bringing a new sense of community to the area.
Our fourth annual Community Day brought together 200 British Land volunteers as well as 520 local jobseekers, schoolchildren, students, elderly residents and people with learning disabilities across 20 community partnerships. Our partners commented on the commitment of those involved, reflecting how the event helps us strengthen local relationships around our London assets. For our volunteers it is a great team building opportunity which enables them to interact with people of different ages and backgrounds as well as learning new skills.
Elk Mill in Oldham is one of several assets where we are using public art to celebrate local heritage and connect with local communities. Professional sculptor Emma Hunter worked with local people to create artworks illustrating Elk Mill’s cotton-spinning heritage and poems inspired by local people’s stories feature on a trio of sculptures in the style of spinning cotton bobbins. Bronze footprints are set into paving stones around the Park, recalling a time when mill workers went barefoot to avoid slipping on the oily floor.
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