Placemaking: The Next Big Thing

Placemaking: The Next Big Thing

Thursday 23rd May was a big day for UK politics and whilst many of you were turning out to your polling stations post-work to rightfully contribute to the future of our country. CREation was hosting yet another great event in London (don’t worry we all made it to the polling station in time) at the wonderful Kensington Olympia, a site that is proving that despite the political situation the development industry is still thriving and foreign investment is available to continue to build world-class venues.


Placemaking is on the lips of many developers and investors as the craving for experience and a sense of community is becoming increasingly crucial for the new generations Y and Z, with a focus on how we futureproof these destinations for many years to come. To unravel the science behind placemaking we invited four experts in the field to discuss various aspects involved in creating a global place.


Lloyd Lee – Managing Partner of YOO Capital. YOO Capital acquired Kensington Olympia Exhibition centres in April 2017, in partnership with Deutsche Finance, through a dedicated fund to repurpose underutilised commercial assets. Lloyd has led the 2 year process which saw planning being consented in January 19 (Under 2 years from acquisition) for an additional 1.2m sqft of commercial property.


Trevor Morriss – Principal designer at SPPARC – SPPARC are leading the design for Kensington Olympia and have worked on a number of other destinations within London, including the ever thriving Borough Market. Through great design and sympathy to heritage, SPPARC have created a truly beautiful and innovative scheme that serves the new market whilst staying true to the original vision from the 1800s.


Melissa Annetts – Director of London Media PR. London Media are experts in communications and PR, and are clued up when it comes to utilising storytelling to provide character and culture to a place. Having worked on Wembley Park most recently, Melissa’s experience is undeniable.


Atholl Milton – Co-Founder and CEO of streetdots. Streetdots is a proptech platform that provides trading spaces around London for F&B and retailing produce. With over 270 active sites the concept is to ‘bring the product to the consumer’, using micro-leasing, by the hour, as a tool to respond to area demand. They work with developers at every stage of development, from initial acquisition to completion to drive footfall to future or developed destinations through pop up.


The event was extremely relaxed in the beautiful interiors of the marketing suite and began with welcome drinks. Trevor and Lloyd set the pace by launching into an overview of Olympia, the ambitious scheme that achieved planning in January 2019, the enormity of this made clear through a selection of plans and images. This was duly referred to as ‘very well considered and exciting’ by attendees of the event.  The development site that has been dubbed ‘the new cultural quarter’ of London is due to undergo a £750m regeneration with YOO Capital driving the development as appointed development managers and SPPARC designing the building to reinstate it back to its former glory whilst propelling it into the 21st Century. Engaging as ever the duo monopolised the floor with their confidence, inspirational conversation and obvious comradeship which kept the audience completely engaged from the get go.


If that wasn’t enough Lloyd let the audience into a few secrets of what to consider, as an investor, when looking for the right site to acquire to build a destination ‘What is your play?’ what is the angle?, with three key items to consider ‘Supply, Demand and Vision’ voiced Lloyd, adding ‘what is the upside’. Before hooking the audience with dropping a few of the exciting tenants they already have signed up to the scheme (my hands are tied due to confidentiality and I am not obliged to disclose this – but trust me they are worth waiting for!)


The approach to the scheme was one of boldness with vision, we heard how Trevor was advised to ‘take a pencil and draw the most ambitious thing you can for the scheme, and let’s aim for that’. Proving that when designing a global place, boldness and vision is the driver of success.


One of the key themes that wove through the evening was – know your consumer. Melissa disclosed the marketing strategy used for Wembley Park. Already a global place for events but how do you reposition this to become a desirable place for residential, ‘how can PR support the overall vision.’ What does your current community look like and who are you targeting is a key consideration. The Marketing campaign for Wembley included videographer of local residents who represented the diversity and overall environment of current Wembley and how the proposed development will enhance this rather than detract.


Atholl continued the theme of consumer focus, discussing how consumers drive the streetdots business. Throughout the day there are three slots for each plot (or dot if you use their lingo!) for a different trader to utilise. Morning, lunch and evening. Which allows the vendor and land owner to respond to daily consumer trends. For instance in the morning you may utilise it with a coffee vendor, then a food van for the lunch time rush followed by a retail offer to catch the home commuters. Maintaining a good level of energy throughout the day. Technology is a key contributor to ensuring the future sustainability and longevity of these places, ensuring that the space is constantly revitalised with new offers. Whilst also providing an opportunity to drive footfall to sites (including vacant and underutilised sites – which equals additional income for the developer – Check!) through the use of markets to ensure the success of establishing and sustaining a place. Win – win!


We were lucky enough that our speakers hung around until almost close which allowed much more mingling and exchanging of ideas over pizza and beer with the CREation members, which was greatly received. ‘It is amazing the calibre of speakers at the event, we would never usually get access to such high level individuals’


It was clear that sites can only be delivered as true destinations if every party involved is focused on the same vision, do their due diligence on their target market and remain bold with their ideas! An overall success.


We can’t wait to see the finished Olympia product and enjoy all of the amazing new tenants they are bringing to Kensington. Check out the full planning at


Harri John