02 – Finchley Road, London NW3

02 – Finchley Road, London NW3

Client: Burford Group

Instruction: Development advice

In 1995, we advised on one of the first family entertainment centres developed in the UK. Burford Group secured joint ownership with Sainsbury’s of a major opportunity site fronting the A41 arterial road, which links central London to the M1 motorway. We were instructed to undertake research into tenant demand and advise our clients on various development options. A retail scheme was soon discounted, as retailer support could not be secured due to the proximity to both Brent Cross and the West End. Residential was not an option as the local authority identified this site for other uses, especially those that would create employment. Our initial research identified strong leisure demand from a number of operators and an architect was appointed to design a mixed use scheme.

Given the strategic position of this site, fronting onto the A41, a number of factors had to be taken into account when designing the scheme, especially traffic impact on the Finchley Road at peak times. We worked closely with the design team and traffic consultants to ensure a design was developed that would work, not only for the operators and customers visiting the centre, but also for local residents and traffic.

The design team were also challenged to include a 20 metre swimming pool within the area outlined for health club use, which was to be above the new foodstore. As we were able to brief the design team at an early point in the project the architect was able to include this option in the design.

After much public consultation, which included numerous presentations to the local authority and residents groups, planning permission was obtained for a mixed retail/leisure scheme of some 275,000 sq ft, served by a 600 space surface car park. The design enabled the joint owners of the site, Sainsbury’s, to secure a new 80,000 sq ft food store at ground level fronting onto the surface car park and their Homebase division to open a solus store of 60,000 sq ft at the western end of the site.

The three level scheme comprised of a food store at ground floor level and leisure and restaurants at first and second floors. The design took advantage of the sloping site to provide the main entrance to the leisure scheme at ground floor off Finchley Road and the considerable frontage provided a new London landmark.

Anchor tenants were secured for the leisure scheme with Warner Village Cinemas (Vue) 45,000 sq ft at the upper level, paying a then record rent for a UK multiplex. Esporta Health & Fitness opened in a unit of 43,000sq ft, on the Finchley Road level, securing record membership prior to opening. A variety of restaurants included Babe Ruth’s, Capitol Radio Café, Pizza Hut, Yo! Sushi and Nandos.

02 has recently been purchased as an investment by Land Securities.