Jane Temple, works in the King’s Cross Regeneration and community team for Argent and manages their community work experience programme, charity relationships and volunteering programme. Argent established Urban Partners (formerly King’s Cross & St Pancras Business Partnership) in 2011 and are the developer of King’s Cross. Jane sits on both the Next Generation Delivery Group and Business Delivery Group at Urban Partners.
- When did you start working/socialising in the area?
As the developer of King’s Cross, Argent have been involved with the area for many years, both now and pre-development. While we were based in Piccadilly in W1, we had a satellite office here at King’s Cross (Regeneration House now home to the Art Fund and House of Illustration). Our King’s Cross marketing suite used to be at the German Gymnasium which is now a D&D restaurant. Argent moved to our office in Stable Street in March 2013 so we have watched the area grow around us, including the opening of Pancras Square, the renovation and opening of Coal Drops Yard and the surrounding public realm to name a few!
- How has the area changed since then?
It has changed immensely. When we moved here, Granary Square and UAL had just opened, King’s Boulevard was open but the entire B zone, as we called it then (Pancras Square) was in construction, therefore there were hardly any completed office buildings. The build of Coal Drops Yard started in around 2012 so a year after we had moved our office here. We have been lucky enough to be right opposite this development taking shape so have witnessed the changes first hand.
- What’s your favourite place in the area and why?
Coal Drops Yard is pretty outstanding, having spent many years showing schools around the space telling them about the rich history of the site to seeing it now transformed into a shopping destination. I also love Granary Square Fountains in the summer when the area is full of life and activity, whether by organised events or just people coming along to relax and have fun.
- What do you love about our neighbourhood?
The incredible diversity in the area from workers, to students or residents. The fact that it is now a destination to come in its own right. This time of year, when the grass is put on the Canal steps, the weather starts to change and Granary Square becomes an area for all to visit. We are lucky enough to have our office looking over the square and there is nothing better than seeing the children playing outside on a warm day during the school summer holidays.
- What’s your favourite community activity in the area?
For me, providing work experience opportunities to local schools and colleges in the area. Our community work experience programme provides placements for students from schools in Camden and Islington over the academic year. Most of these students have never been exposed to businesses such as ours or know anything about the sort of careers that are available within development or indeed other organisations in the area. To give some of these students the chance to learn more about the variety of careers on offer in the King’s Cross area, we introduced our Joint Work Experience programme two years ago with participating businesses such as Kerb, Urbanest and Tileyard. Local students do not have the same avenues into business as others might have so haven’t yet been motivated down a career path. This programme allows them to learn more about different careers and business environments first hand.
- What is your favourite aspect of the work Urban Partners does?
Following a similar theme – young people. Much of the work that the Next Generation Delivery group does is around engaging and supporting the young people from the local area and connecting them to employment opportunities. From this work we have had two successful career expos, the Homework Club and mentoring programmes and have seen our reach extended from schools in the King’s Cross and Euston areas to Islington as well.
- What’s the best community initiative you have seen in the local area?
There are so many to choose from. I would say that the work that Global Generation have done over the years has been inspiring and they continue to grow. In addition, both Scene & Heard and New Horizon Youth Centre are fantastic local charities. Borough wide though, the work that Camden have been doing around the STEAM agenda and making sure that schools can connect with local businesses around this, is fantastic. At the same time, Islington are also promoting their 100 hours of work experience to local businesses. These are all really exciting ways to engage young people in the area and help them with their future aspirations of the world of work.
- What challenges will the area face in the future?
Urban Partners have done terrific work in engaging businesses to support the wider community. As the area continues to grow and more businesses make King’s Cross their home, the challenge would be to make sure that this engagement grows with it and it remains an inclusive area. All of us that work here are in a unique position to amplify the impact that we can make in the local area and ideally embed a legacy of engagement to be proud of.
- Where do you see our neighbourhood in the next ten years and what kind of image will it have?
King’s Cross will not be a development site any longer. The Google HQ would have opened and other businesses such as Facebook would have moved to King’s Cross. The area will be even more full of life and diversity and will continue to grow as a destination to visit in its own right. Alongside Urban Partners, there are initiatives in the area such as Camden STEAM, Islington 100 hours and I am hoping that such initiatives would ensure that young people can benefit from the local area. The same young people that will hopefully be working here in 10 years’ time!
- What famous quote would you used to describe Urban Partners and why?
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller
The wealth of experience and knowledge available from all Urban Partner member businesses has already made an impact on young people in the local area proving that if you collaborate you can make a difference. I think that this quote sums it up perfectly!