What can Tottenham Hale mean to Londoners?
What can Tottenham Hale mean to Londoners? This is the question we were asked recently by our friends at Argent Related, the property developer whose experience includes the transformation of King’s Cross.
Argent has always worked on the assumption that it’s not enough to just develop, flog the assets and run. Rather, it adopts a strategy where its team continues to manage property once the building work is completed, creating developments which are connected to their immediate area, sympathetic to local communities and, above all, the kinds of places which people want to live and work in and want to visit.
When Argent Related was selected to develop the area around Tottenham Hale Station in North East London, a key early activity was to establish a vision for the development rooted in the reality of the area – a vision which rang true with local residents and a wider London audience alike, one which was motivating to different stakeholder groups, from council officials at Haringey, to new residents buying or renting in the development, to the businesses the development would need to attract to flourish and the architects and engineers working on the buildings themselves.
We love this kind of work. A few projects over the past few years have given us a real taste for briefs which start with the question when people look at this place, what do they see? We’ve encountered it in work with Argent looking at how to keep people on board with the King’s Cross development and in a project helping them, as Argent Related, put together their successful bid to lead the massive new development at Brent Cross South. More recently we’ve worked with Intersection to help them think about how to transplant their incredibly successful free wifi for public good from New York City to South London by using Camberwell as a starting point and extrapolating our findings Londonwide.
At their heart, these projects are often simple. They require going to a place with an open mind and exploring its geography and history. They require that we literally walk the streets, talking to people who know the area already, and listening to those new to the area as they see it for the first time.
In the case of Tottenham Hale we started off largely ignorant. For a lot of Londoners, ourselves included, Tottenham Hale is just a way point early on in a weekend city break, a train change on the way to Stanstead Airport. But spending a couple of weeks talking to people who know the place, the Vicar in charge of a community project started in the wake of the 2011 riots, the owners of independent businesses escaping sky high rents of Shoreditch, ex-councillors and current council workers, we started to get more of an impression of what makes the place tick, what makes it a different and special part of London.
Our understanding of the place grew even more when we were taken on tours of the area by long-time residents, who could explain what they love about the place: the gradual positive changes that come with gentrification; the sense of community at Bodyworks Gym; or the insane busy-ness of West Green Road. By the end of the project we had started to feel like we’d known Tottenham for years, from the marshes to Broadwater Farm, from the Tottenham Outrage to the recent craft ale boom.
At the end of the process we had developed a coherent and compelling vision for Tottenham Hale, one which is different, motivating and, importantly, true.
If you’re interested in understanding how people see a place, if you’re looking to build a brand for a place, then get in touch, we’d love to talk to you about what we can do to help.