Seal of approval
One of the UK’s most senior property experts visited Kings Hill to see an example of successful ‘placemaking’ and hear how the private and public sectors can work together to create new developments.
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation - the industry’s advocacy body – was invited by Alex King, deputy leader of Kent County Council and Andrew Blevins, managing director of Kings Hill developer Liberty Property Trust UK Ltd, to visit Kings Hill.
She heard how, twenty three years ago, Liberty Property Trust UK Ltd and Kent County Council formed a collaborative public/private sector partnership to develop Kings Hill. In that time it has evolved into a vibrant community with a series of residential villages, a business park with more than 200 businesses creating employment for over 5,000 people and supporting retail, leisure and community amenities.
It has since been named the country’s most successful new village in a national report on placemaking, ahead of Prince Charles’ Poundbury development in Dorset. Kings Hill’s design, the provision of public and private amenity space, transport links, car parking and community provision were cited as being particularly successful.
“It just goes to show how good design and a patient approach pays off,” said Liz Peace. “It was a great opportunity to see how Liberty and Kent County Council have worked together to transform a derelict airfield into a stylish, cohesive community that has become one of the most sought after business locations in the South East and an aspirational place to live.
“I was particularly impressed by the variety of amenities on site, which is a great benefit to those working and living at Kings Hill.”
Andrew Blevins said that Liberty’s unique selling point is that because we are long term investors in real estate, we can see the benefits in sometimes providing more than might be expected of us. For example, the cricket ground and pavilion felt like the right additions to provide, for good reasons.
“The feedback from those living and working here is extremely positive. We have an online feedback device on www.kings-hill.com and we are currently asking Kings Hillians what additional amenities they would like to see, as we do periodically.”