The developer behind the transformation of King’s Cross — the biggest such project in a European capital at the time — into one of the most desirable locations in London has said engagement with the public every step of the way is key to enhancing Irish cities like Limerick.

Roger Madelin, who was the final guest speaker of Limerick Civic Trust’s Autumn Lecture Series at St Mary’s Cathedral, said the transformation of King’s Cross from an area with a worldwide reputation for antisocial behaviour into a family-friendly centre with thousands of students and public amenities took years of public engagement to bring to fruition.

Mr Madelin was chief executive of Argent from 1997 to 2012 and oversaw the redevelopment of King’s Cross’ 67 acres.

The £500m (€560m) redevelopment has seen 50 new buildings, 20 streets, 10 parks and squares, and thousands of new people living there.

British Land has since appointed Mr Madelin to lead the development of its 46-acre Canada Water site.

Putting public spaces into a large development at the beginning was a way for developers to earn the trust of local people, he said.

For King’s Cross, Mr Madelin said the developers held a series of lectures and public consultation with local stakeholders on what they wanted to see before redevelopment began.

“We wanted to engage as many people as possible. We met people in the community, some of whom had great ideas. That diffuses a lot of fears,” he said.

The first four years of King’s Cross was spent on public engagement and policy before a planning application went in, he said.

Mr Madelin said a good example of how Limerick could enhance its reputation as a globally friendly city for students and families alike would be to develop a corridor from the city centre to the University of Limerick.

“If UL is two miles away from the city centre, then you create a route out there that people want to use. But if there is nothing along that route to make you want to stop, it won’t work. The aim is to make that route the most exciting in Ireland. Look at your rivers, look at your heritage,” he said.

Funds from the Autumn Lecture Series of Limerick Civic Trust will go towards restoration works on St Munchin’s Church with the aim to open it as a museum.


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