Keeping the nation’s lights on and gas flowing is the obvious vital service traditionally provided by National Grid. Now there’s another one – helping ease the country’s shortage of housing, as Head of National Grid Property Richard Alden explains.
We manage National Grid’s surplus property portfolio – land that is no longer needed for operational purposes. We manage the industrial legacy of these sites, including dismantling gasholders and other structures, and removing the by-products of gas production that can exist in the land.
Our land can then be returned to beneficial use. This can be for a variety of purposes, including housing for the community, commercial development and social infrastructure such as schools and parks. There is of course an acute need for housing these days, particularly in London and the South-East.
All shapes and sizes
We have a team of around 60 people to do this, covering the whole of the UK. We own around 350 sites in England, Scotland and Wales, most of which are former gas works, located in urban areas. Our aim is to bring these sites back into beneficial use and re-introduce them into the heart of the communities they once served.
We work closely with other parts of National Grid, local communities, developers, industry groups and local, regional and national Government to speed up the redevelopment of our sites.
The size of our sites varies greatly – from an individual house, to 100 acres on the River Thames at Beckton in east London, which once housed Europe’s largest gasworks, and everything in between. In London alone, we own around 300 acres across the capital.
We are constantly looking at innovative ways of speeding up the release of our land for redevelopment. Most recently, we entered into a joint venture with the Berkeley Group, called ‘St William’.
The St. William joint venture will allow us to unlock the housing potential of our land in London and the South-East, creating more than 10,000 new homes over the next 10 years. We will provide the land, and our expertise in dismantling gas holders and removing the by-products of gas production. The Berkeley Group will match the value of our land with its investment, and bring their extensive experience in place-making and building new homes.
We also take an innovative approach to preparing our land for its future use. We make sure that when land is made available for communities to use again, it is safe for its new purpose. We work in the most sustainable way possible, reducing the amount of waste taken to landfill by using innovative methods to treat and reuse soil on site.
Tackling a national challenge
The decommissioning of National Grid’s gas holders across the UK has created a unique opportunity for National Grid to do something more than keep the lights on and gas flowing. We are also able to make a significant contribution towards the nation’s housing shortage – something we’re all extremely proud of within National Grid Property.