In promoting urban regeneration as well as old town transformation and renewal, Taichung City Mayor Shiow-yen Lu led a delegation to visit King's Cross Station on September 4 (Taipei time), hoping to borrow experience from the greatest urban regeneration project in the UK as reference for the transformation and renewal of old town districts in Taichung. According to Mayor Lu, King's Cross in London was formerly a longstanding coal storage facility, and it was subsequently developed into a multifunctional complex for retail and cultural and creative purposes. Taichung has many venues undergoing similar transformations, therefore they can learn from the experience in the UK to engage in public-private partnership in order to undergo an effective transformation and generate developments in Taichung.
Accompanied by Secretariat Chung-tien Huang and other delegates, Mayor Lu visited King's Cross in London on the 4th. She mentioned that King's Cross was formerly a large coal storage; after early industrial revolution, coal became the primary source of power and energy, but with energy transformations in the modern age, coal consumption has decreased significantly, and the British government has begun restricting the use of coal, with the aim of coal-free power generation by 2025. Coal usage in boilers will also be minimized, therefore the ancient coal storage was handed over to property developers for development.
According to Mayor Lu, the property developers have adopted the multifunctional development approach, renting out spaces to retailers, businesses, and cultural and creative hubs, so that youths or cultural and creative workers can use the venue as their office. There are currently many venues in Taichung undergoing a similar transformation, therefore the city hall must contemplate how to best cooperate with the private sector and transform the venues effectively. Meanwhile, how to attract investment is also a paramount task for the city hall.
Secretariat Huang commented that there are several warehouses and historical buildings near Taichung Old Station, hence urban regeneration and integrated regional developments can be conducted with the private sector. King's Cross in London is an excellent example of urban regeneration, and it is also the largest urban regeneration project in the UK, thus it can be used as a template for Taichung's old town district renewal project to generate local developments.
Situated in the heart of downtown London, King's Cross is a vital transport hub for railway transport in London and land transport to North London. In the early years, the park comprised railroad and industrial facilities, when former London Mayor Ken Livingstone unveiled the first London project in 2004, King's Cross was included as a key development zone. The property developers and landowners formed The King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) to facilitate the urban regeneration of King's Cross.
KCCLP's total development is 67 acres (27 hectares), consisting of the restoration and repurposing of 20 historical buildings as well as the construction of 10 public squares, 3 parks, one waterfront area, one elementary school, and 20 new streets. Inside the park, the spaces are designed into business offices, residences, student dormitories, restaurants, retail stores, and recreational spaces, etc. The entire project is slated for completion by 2020.
At present, King's Cross is also home to Googles European headquarters, Universal Music, Louis Vuitton, University of the Arts London, and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Not only has it become an industrial cluster and a pillar of academic excellence but also an important stop for shoppers and travelers. It is believed that the visit to King's Cross will be able to breathe new life into Taichung's urban regeneration efforts by introducing new perspectives and visions.