How Brent Cross Town Drives UK Rethink on Net-Zero Planning

One of Europe's most ambitious urban regeneration projects is using mass timber to drive net-zero in London's Northwest!

Fri 05 Jan 24


Brent Cross West, London’s newest train station and first mainline station built over a decade ago, is now open for business after London Lord Mayor Sadiq Khan launched the £419 million station.

One of the highlights of the station is a massive glulam “timber canopy” covering a multi-level arrival area, and according to VolkerFitzpatrick, responsible for its design and construction, it “seeks to merge functionality with a new green public space.”

Aside from the station, the project involved reconfiguring hundreds of metres of tracks and delivering new modern railway sidings to facilitate the station’s development. In addition, the project team navigated the challenges of working on an active railway and managed complications arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, with delays kept to a minimum.

“The station will serve as a gateway to Brent Cross Town, a brand-new neighbourhood delivering new homes, creating jobs, and aiming to be net zero by 2030,” according to Mayor Khan, referencing the 180-acre net-zero development, which will eventually introduce 6,700 new homes, 280,000 metres of commercial space for 25,000 workers.

As Wood Central reported in July, Brent Cross Town will use off-site construction to “set industry-leading targets for embodied carbon reduction, operational efficiency and user wellbeing.”

The new development, one of Europe’s largest urban development projects, is being developed by the Barnet Council in partnership with developers Related Argent with the station “a major milestone for Brent Cross Town”, according to André Gibbs, partner of Related Argent.

In total, “there are six buildings currently under construction, including close to 1,000 new homes, with the first residents set to move in from the middle of 2024,” according to Mr Gibbs.

Footage courtesy of @savills.

It includes the first mass-timber framed office building approved in an office park using mass timber frames and all-timber flooring.

Wood Central understands that Brent Cross Town will eventually use cross-laminated timber to construct all commercial offices out of all timber or a hybrid of mass timber and low-carbon concrete. 

In an interview with Dezeen in 2020, then Brent Cross Town’s development director Peter Runacres spoke about the power of mass timber in delivering net zero communities.

“Timber is one of the few truly renewable building materials,” explains Brent Cross Town’s development director, Peter Runacres. 

“Who knows what the future of the workplace will be like in five, ten or twenty years? We want to create buildings that are there for a long time and are supremely adaptable… It’s much easier to do that with a timber building you can cut and carve.”

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The project features a 9-storey cross-laminated timber office tower currently under construction. (Photo Credit: Brent Cross Town)

Matt Flood, Brent Cross Town’s current development director, said in July 2023 that “delivering majority-timber buildings in the UK is ambitious and therefore can be challenging; however, we must continually innovate for a zero-carbon future.

Once fully realised, Brent Cross Town will provide a template for UK “net zero communities” combining multiple outdoor activities, using urban forestry to develop a new community model for residents. 

Most importantly, it addresses the urgent challenge of the global Climate Crisis, achieving net zero carbon by 2030 at the latest.

“We’re addressing this with low-carbon construction, renewable power, circular economy principles, carbon offsetting — and by empowering everyone who lives and works here to make low-carbon lifestyle choices of their own.” 

The first residents of the newly built units will move into the precinct in later this year.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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