The boy who is third in line to the throne will be going to school there from September; Apple is moving in and so is the US ambassador; and property prices are rising 18 per cent faster than the London average. TOBY PORTER looks at the transformation of Battersea over the last three years
House prices in Battersea have surged in the wake of the decision to extend the Northern line there – and the revamp of the area around the power station. The Government gave the green light to a Northern Line tube extension in November 2014, and research shows homes in the area are now selling for 25 per cent more since then, with an average home price of £945,724.
That means Battersea is outstripping the seven per cent prices rise in Wandsworth in that period – and the average London increase, which is 18 per cent. In the year before the final approval of the Northern Line Extension in November 2014, prices in Wandsworth increased by 20 per cent annually, four per cent more than Battersea, with Nine Elms seeing a drop of 21 per cent in just one year. By 2020, the Northern Line will run from Kennington to new tube stations Nine Elms and then Battersea Power Station once the work is complete. A third stop has been proposed that would link Clapham Junction station to the Northern line, connecting the Tube to London Overground services and to trains heading beyond the boundaries of the capital.
Prices in Nine Elms have fallen by three per cent to £719,376 since November 2014, though they also dropped by 21 per cent in the year before the announcement. If the trend continues until the planned opening, an increase of 25 per cent in the average price in Battersea would see property values exceed £1.1million. But it is not just the black fingers of the Northern line moving into Battersea which has made a difference.
The US Embassy is moving from Mayfair to Nine Elms later this year, where a £15billion regeneration programme is under way. The Dutch Embassy is now following suit and others may follow. Apple announced last September that it would move 1,400 staff into Battersea Power Station in 2021, itself the subject of an £8billion revamp. But it is not just international big guns moving in. The relatively small, but perhaps no less crucial, presence of a small royal personage will be there from September. Prince George will be starting at Thomas’s School, in Battersea High Street, in September. Many had expected the royal couple to choose Wetherby School in Notting Hill – much closer to Kensington Palace – which was the private prep that Princes William and Harry once attended. But other high profile names had already started coming across Chelsea Bridge and into SW11. Battersea Park, where Prince Harry occasionally plays football and bought his girlfriend Meghan Markle a Christmas tree, will have quicker links into town.
Old Battersea House in Vicarage Crescent – once famous for hosting lavish parties attended by Margaret Thatcher and Elizabeth Taylor – is on the market for a cool £12million. Bunga Bunga – named after the phrase used by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as a nickname for his parties – is a hot spot for the Chelsea set. Prince Harry, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, go there – according to stories in the national newspapers.
Victoria Beckham could also become a familiar face: the designer is said to have bought a retail space in the area, while her friend Tana Ramsay – wife of Gordon – owns a beauty salon nearby. Longer-term residents include Bob Geldof and actress Gemma Arterton. The Royal College of Art has a campus around the corner in Howie Street and Lord Foster, the architect involved in the revamp at the Power Station, has spaceship-shaped offices in the area. Sting and Trudie Styler have bought a flat in the Battesea Power Station development, as has the adventurer Bear Grylls. Flats are selling for more than £8million but the penthouses are said to be going for up to £30million.
It has been a long time coming, though. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s 87-year-old Battersea Power Station closed in 1983, and three years later it was given Grade II Listed status following a massive campaign to save it.
A £35million plan for an indoor theme park, with shops and restaurants was approved in 1986 and the site was bought by John Broome for £1.5million in 1987 and work began the same year. But the project was halted in March 1989 when costs had escalated to £230million. Malaysian developers SP Setia and Sime Darby bought the site in September 2012 and won approval to position a restored power station, with flats, as the central focus of the regenerated 40-acre site with housing shops, cafes, restaurants, art and leisure facilities, office space and 800 flats.
There will be a new riverside park to the north of the power station and a new high street linking the Tube station with the power station. In October 2013, globally influential architect Frank Gehry was appointed joint architect with Foster & Partners to design Phase 3 of the scheme, which will provide “the gateway to the entire development and the new Northern line extension”. It seems the power station redevelopment was essential to bring about the revival of the area. In March, a £42million project to bring new electricity supplies into the heart of the Battersea Power Station development was completed. Electricity tunnel boring machine, “Maggie”, completed the 11-week construction of a 320-metre-long spur tunnel to carry essential electricity supplies to the £9billion, 42-acre development. It was joint funded by UK Power Networks and the developer.
Gary Edwards, technical director at Battersea Power Station Development Company, said: “The new substation that is currently being built by UK Power Networks will ensure a reliable and efficient electricity source is provided to all of Battersea Power Station’s commercial tenants and residents once they have moved in.
“UK Power Networks and their delivery partners are doing a great job and we are looking forward to seeing the power station light up once again when it opens to the public in 2020.”
Nirmal Kotecha, director of capital programme and procurement at UK Power Networks, said: “We are immensely proud of the role we are playing in delivering the electricity infrastructure needed to rejuvenate a landmark building and the surrounding area of former industrial land. “This project will deliver essential new electricity supplies that will breathe new life into a once-derelict part of London.
“We will be providing reliable electricity supplies for a mini town of new homes, offices, hotels and restaurants, with the power station at its heart.” Russell Quirk, founder and chief executive of eMoov.co.uk, whose company conducted the survey, said: “The extent of the regeneration and residential projects across the Nine Elms and Battersea area, along with the extension of the Northern Line service, should breathe a great deal of life back into the area. “In a cooling London market, it is one area that certainly looks set to buck the trend and the healthy price increases seen in Battersea should persist up to, and beyond, completion in 2020. “Battersea seems to be benefitting from its end-of-the-line location on the extension. “It would seem that the numerous structural surveys carried out along the path of underground extension in Nine Elms and the risk of ground disturbance that comes with such a large-scale tunnelling operation are deterring buyers in the area for the moment.
“Nine Elms is probably the only area of London that has also suffered from an oversupply of property.
“The extent of this residential construction process will also be causing price growth in the area to stall, but this negative growth is certainly on the reverse and prices should soon start to climb.”
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