Brent Cross Town £7bn development improves workflows with new drone software

Brent Cross Town, a joint venture between Argent Related and Barnet Council, is using Site Scan drone flight management and image processing software from Esri UK to improve the efficiency of groundworks surveys and how it communicates progress of the new neighbourhood. The software is being used to create 3D point clouds, textured meshes, video and 360-degree panoramas, enabling highly accurate and consistent updates to be shared amongst all stakeholders as the development progresses.

A new park town for both Barnet and London, Brent Cross Town is an ambitious new neighbourhood spanning 180 acres, incorporating 50 acres of parks and playing fields. Delivering 6,700 new homes and 3m sq ft of office space for 25,000 employees, the town will be a major new office destination. New and sustainable transport links, a high street, local amenities, services and world-class sports facilities are also part of the scheme.

Previously, drone surveys were commissioned to third parties on an ad-hoc basis, with outputs defined by the business purpose they were satisfying, such as project management, logistical planning, marketing or legal. Brent Cross Town wanted to create a more consistent and efficient method of monitoring site progress and make the overall drone programme easier to manage.

Lily Wydra, GIS, Land and Property Manager at Argent Related, explained: “Before Site Scan we had no pre-existing software specifically for planning flights or managing and processing drone imagery outputs. Now we have a consistent framework for managing all flights through our supply chain, processing images, creating high quality geospatially-enabled outputs and disseminating them to multiple stakeholders. As a cloud-based service, Site Scan also means we can work seamlessly with contractors, such as civil engineering contractor Galldris Services Ltd, who we’ve currently requested to carry out drone survey work.” 

The drone team at Galldris has been regularly flying drone surveys with its fleet of DJI drones and using Esri Site Scan under Argent’s operator licence, since March 2021. Galldris has also been helping to maintain part of the network of GCPs (Ground Control Points) to aid in the auto-georeferencing of drone imagery. The team now processes monthly drone outputs to support internal operations and delivers them to Argent who utilise and disseminate them through a collection of ArcGIS Online maps and apps.

Outputs include 3D point clouds which have been helping construction managers, technical teams and contractors understand how changes in site topography will impact the site and for performing volumetric calculations, on how much earth needs to be excavated and removed. While video, static images and 360-degree panoramas have been used to provide project teams, investors and the public with engaging visual updates on construction progress and by legal teams when working on leases with potential tenants.

“Site Scan has enabled us to create a formalised and repeatable approach for generating digital drone outputs, irrespective of the survey provider, which is also proving to be more cost effective than commissioning one-off surveys,” commented Wydra. “Drone usage is increasing so having a scalable framework to manage flights and streamline the integration of data captured into GIS, BIM and CAD workflows is proving invaluable. Ultimately, better drone outputs support a better data-driven decision-making process.”

Site Scan connects seamlessly with Argent Related’s enterprise GIS, Esri ArcGIS and is already enriching geospatial datasets. Drone data can be quickly published into ArcGIS Online to enhance pre-existing online maps, including those on-site or shared with Barnet Council, who has started to publish some data layers in its Masterplan. The regular drone surveys also proved invaluable for monitoring progress remotely during COVID-19 lockdowns, when site access was limited.

Brent Cross Town is the first Argent Related project where Site Scan has been deployed but the developer business is planning to use it at other major developments, including King’s Cross and Tottenham Hale, as the demand for drone data increases.

“Deploying Site Scan at Brent Cross Town has streamlined how we carry out surveys, visualise large-scale developments and communicate site progress,” concluded Wydra. “Engineering is a precise school of activity and drones are a relatively new part of the workflow but now they are working alongside tried and tested engineering practices and surveying activities. Site Scan is helping to build a more coordinated and efficient way of managing our drone programmes and will soon move to other developments as we scale it across the business.” 

About Brent Cross Town 

Brent Cross Town is the neighbourhood at the heart of the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration programme. It is a joint venture between Argent Related and Barnet Council to develop a large-scale mixed-use development including new homes, retail and office space, as well as improved schools and greenspaces in the area. Early work started on site in early 2020 and construction is also underway on the new Brent Cross West station which will be completed by the end of 2022. Building on the strengths of this diverse part of the city, Brent Cross Town will draw inspiration from the best of London’s long-established neighbourhoods with all their complexity and character. 

At its heart will be a focus on sport, play, health and well-being. The new neighbourhood will provide 6,700 homes, state-of-the-art workspace for over 25,000 people, and pedestrian friendly streets and squares with local shops and restaurants that will complement the offer at Brent Cross Shopping Centre. The community will be supported by first-class public transport infrastructure, a new and improved network of walking and cycle routes and a series of new parks and other amenities. 

About Argent Related 

Argent Related brings together an extraordinary blend of complementary skills, access to global capital and unrivalled technical and delivery experience. Argent, the respected developer with a track record in creating exemplar new pieces of UK cities, including King’s Cross, joined forces in March 2015 with Related, the most prominent privately-owned real estate firm in the United States responsible for Hudson Yards. The company has an £8bn+ development pipeline in London which includes the delivery of two major regeneration schemes featuring over 7,900 homes, over 3 million sq ft of office space, 50 acres of parks and playing fields, as well as retail, leisure, student accommodation and schools, both highly accessible from new and improved public transport connections. It is currently working in a joint venture with Barnet Council on London’s 180-acre Brent Cross Town development, with the London Borough of Haringey for the Tottenham Hale redevelopment and is progressing other opportunities in London including a build-to-rent development in King’s Cross. 

About Esri UK 

Esri is the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence and mapping. Esri has regional offices, international distributors, and partners providing local support in over 100 countries on six continents. Founded in 1969, Esri software is deployed in more than 350,000 organisations worldwide. 

AEC organisations use Esri’s GIS to help plan, design, build and maintain smarter buildings and infrastructure. Esri UK customers include Argent Related, Arcadis, Mott MacDonald, Costain and the Skanska, Costain and STRABAG Joint Venture. 


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