The Tracks of My Years – Ian Lindsay

Helical's Kaleidoscope development at Farringdon's East entrance, part of Crossrail's OSD programme.
Helical’s Kaleidoscope development at Farringdon’s East entrance, part of Crossrail’s OSD programme.

Ian Lindsay, land value capture and transit-oriented development expert, on playing Monopoly, shopping in the Big Apple, and spotting Batman in Hong Kong …

Interview by Steve Long


Ian Lindsay was born and raised in Hull. A Chartered Surveyor, he has more than 30 years of client-side experience in land acquisition and mixed-use property development. He spent seven years with Crossrail as Land and Property Director where he delivered 12 over-station developments valued at over US$3 billion. As Head of Major Developments at Network Rail, his flagship projects included The Shard, and the redevelopment of London’s Cannon Street Station and Birmingham New Street Station. He is a specialist in 19th Century social and economic history, achieving a first class honours degree from the University of Manchester. He now lives in South London.


Which project that you’ve worked on during your career are you most proud of?

I have been really lucky to work on many property-led regeneration projects over the years, from the construction of 15 affordable homes on an infill site on a council estate in Stockport (my first) to the construction of iconic buildings like The Shard in London (I sold them the land). However, Crossrail really stands head and shoulders above all the other projects I have worked on because of its scale, the outcomes it will deliver and, of course, the people I had the privilege to work with during my time on the project.

As Land and Property Director, I was responsible for a US$1.2bn (£860m) land acquisition programme that delivered 150 hectares of land and 10,000 cubic metres of sub-soil in time for construction to commence, including some of the best-loved and highest value buildings at the heart of perhaps the most amazing city on the planet. In addition, I was responsible for earning value back for the project from the property development opportunities above and around our infrastructure, creating a portfolio of more than 325,000 square metres of offices, shops and apartments in 12 key locations. With fantastic development opportunities in places like Paddington, Mayfair and Tottenham Court Road it really was like being handed the Monopoly Board to play with! I am incredibly proud that many of these developments are already complete – ahead of the opening of the railway – and that the project remains on track to bank more than US$700m (£500m) in profits from the property development portfolio.

“You can create most value from property development by creating wellconnected, welldesigned places and spaces around transport nodes”

If you could offer a client one piece of advice based on your specific area of expertise, what would it be?

I’d say be ambitious! You can create most value from property development by creating well-connected, well-designed places and spaces around transport nodes. However, once you have developed the vision, then it is all about identifying risk and finding the strategies that will eliminate, reduce, manage and mitigate those risks. Once you know the risks you can set about proactively managing them, which is all about attention to detail, good systems and processes, excellent people making evidence-based decisions based on real-time dashboard reporting and leading not lagging indicators.

“My favourite thing about working with Crossrail International is that I am constantly learning new stuff that I can incorporate into future advisory commissions!”

Which has been your favourite commission with Crossrail International to date, and why?

I have genuinely enjoyed all the commissions I’ve been involved with over the last three years. I have worked most extensively in Australia and Canada and a little in the Middle East. The greatest thing about all these commissions has been that as well as being able to export my skills and the Crossrail experience to different countries and jurisdictions, in every case I have also learned new tricks from the great projects we have supported. So I’d say my favourite thing about working with Crossrail International is that I am constantly learning new stuff that I can incorporate into future advisory commissions!

Grand Central Station in New York City, USA
Grand Central Station in New York City, USA

Which station/oversite development (OSD) and/or transit-oriented development (TOD) around the world do you most admire, and why?

There are so many to choose from! My favourite station is probably Grand Central in New York City. The ticket hall is a majestic space. They have done a fantastic job on the retail with one of the coolest Apple stores anywhere in the world. The Oyster Bar in the vaults below the station is one of NYC’s best places to eat. In the MetLife building, Grand Central also has one of the first major overstation developments, dating from the early 60s. Sadly, it’s also one of the ugliest and New York is actually an underachiever in TOD projects! In terms of inspiring TOD examples, the MTR in Hong Kong is the system that we all want to emulate. They have delivered some of the biggest and best OSDs anywhere in the world. The 100-storey-plus International Finance Centre (IFC) tower buildings that sit on top of Hong Kong Central station were featured in the Batman movie, The Dark Knight!

“What I’m most looking forward to is when the likes of Crossrail, Sydney Metro and the Toronto subways go ‘live’ with their TOD offers”

Bullet train
Japan’s world famous Shinkansen (bullet) train

If you could visit and travel on any rail system in the world where you have never been, where would you go?

I would love to visit Tokyo in Japan and travel on the Shinkansen (bullet train) network.


My all-time favourite track is …

“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke . . . a sweet voice, a soulful tune and as relevant today as it was when released in 1964.

A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke


Ian Lindsay canary Wharf

Ian Lindsay

Expert Adviser, Land Value Capture & Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

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