Matthew Flood, head of occupier markets at Landsec – responsible for Victoria’s Nova development – talks to Reyhaan Day about how the company plans to continue its work to revitalise the area post-pandemic

What challenges has Landsec faced during the pandemic?

It has been a huge challenge for all businesses. Firstly, we’ve been tackling how we look after our people and buildings in the short term; and then also trying to understand how it might shift longer-term behaviours and how people use spaces.

While the pandemic has been challenging, we’re hoping to emerge from it in a really positive way. We’re optimistic about the opportunities it will present once we’re through the lockdown phase. Hopefully, we can regain some traction.

How does Landsec plan to generate footfall in the area post-lockdown?

Victoria is a huge passion and focus of our business. We relocated there ourselves, so we’re living and breathing our own schemes.

Our absolute priority is making sure that all our buildings and spaces are safe and that people feel confident using them. That means signage, cleaning regimes and guidance.

We manage all our own spaces, so our operations team is immersed in making sure we’re delivering that. It’s also about helping businesses with their own spaces too – sharing our expertise to help them bring their workers and staff back into the office buildings safely.

We’re thinking about how we start to drive footfall and get people to engage and become excited about these urban environments again – how we can work with our retailers and brand partners at ground floor to make sure that there are exciting things for visitors to experience. We’ve got a roof garden that forms part of the Cardinal Place estate; we’re looking at creating a space there which is safe and where we can roll out a programme of events from May. That could include speakers, health and wellbeing initiatives like yoga and meditation, or it could be where business organisations can host a private event in a largely outdoor space.

Trends for health and wellbeing have really come to the forefront of people’s thinking – what the role of the office and the retail spaces they occupy is, and how they can have a positive effect on your health by being inspirational, healthy spaces.

“We’re thinking about how we start to drive footfall and get people to engage and become excited about these urban environments again”

How have spaces like Nova changed the landscape of Victoria?

Nova is one I’m particularly passionate about, having been involved from the beginning. We’ve seen it become a reality, and a new focal point of Victoria.

The area has seen a lot of development and it has changed a lot – but Nova really gave it that critical mass of both public realm and outdoor spaces where people can congregate.

The choice of restaurants, cafés and leisure, where people can come and decide what they want to do, has been important. It was about trying to address all those different kinds of social events that people have throughout their day – during the week and on the weekend as well.

We’re delighted with Nova and the impact it has had. It has genuinely transformed people’s perceptions of the area. It’s become a much more vibrant and permeable place, in terms of how you can move between the buildings and around the spaces, engaging with the artwork, and the choice and calibre of its food and beverage offering.

We remain wedded to Victoria and look forward to adding to our estate in due course, making sure that we deliver spaces that attract great businesses to Victoria, but also offer something to the broader residential community with our retail and amenity spaces.

Have you been able to work together with the BID to come through this challenging year?

The Victoria BID, as well as lots of other organisations, have done a fantastic job in being the flag-bearers for the district. They’ve done a huge amount of fantastic work for the community and making sure all the stakeholders come together in a collaborative way, which was crucial.

It was important when we were looking to generate Victoria and shape what it could be that we brought everybody on that journey, and the BID were great partners in helping us do that. Now, as we emerge from this pandemic, it’s just as vital, to make these spaces animated again, populated again and engaging people. It’s a collective effort – no one can do it on their own.