Saturday, 27 March 2010

Regeneration forges ahead south of the river

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March 26, 2010

Regeneration forges ahead south of the river

Vauxhall, Battersea and Nine Elms are on the brink of a mighty makeover. But will it live up to the hype

aerial shot of new battersea power station development
A computer-generated image for the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station
The “Battersea Vauxhall Nine Elms Opportunity Area” is more interesting than it sounds. It includes Battersea Power Station, the new US Embassy, a cluster of skyscrapers, a possible new footbridge over the Thames, even a Tube extension. These are the kind of things that make Londoners very excited and deeply cynical. The plans have been hyped for so long thay they’ve assumed mythic status.
The background
The site is 450 acres of industrial riverbank between Lambeth and Chelsea bridges. A recent planning framework proposed a bag of goodies: 25,000 jobs, 16,000 homes, fancy skyscrapers and a Tube station for Battersea.
The American Embassy
The US State Department bought the site in 2008, planning consent was granted in October, work will start in 2013 and finish in 2017. Wandsworth Council is already using the term “embassy quarter”.
Battersea Power Station
It was never going to be easy. Rob Tincknell, managing director of Treasury Holdings, the owner of the site (bought for £400 million in 2006), said this week that he wanted to sell a stake in the £5.5 billion development. All hopes are pinned on Wandsworth Council approving a second planning application, submitted in October. It includes 3,700 homes, but not the “eco-tower” vetoed by the Mayor last year. A decision is expected in August.
The Tube
The future of the power station also depends on the extension of the Northern Line from Kennington to two new stations — Nine Elms and Battersea.
TfL has said that this would probably be possible in principle, but that the developer would have to pay.
New homes
Foster and Partners is drawing up plans for part of the 57-acre New Covent Garden Market site. Flats, shops and caf├ęs are planned for Nine Elms Lane, Thessaly Road and Wandsworth Road. All will be linked by a “linear park” connecting Vauxhall with the power station. The planning application will be submitted this year.
Several are planned in Vauxhall, but are proving wobbly. Work is yet to start on Vauxhall Tower (180m, 223 flats) at St George’s Wharf, despite being approved in 2005. Vauxhall Sky Gardens (120m, 178 flats), approved in 2008, has gone quiet. Market Towers, a 1970s block, was to become four blocks of flats, but it was sold last year and the new owners, Green Property, say “we are keeping our powder dry”. No decision has yet been made on Make Architects’ Bondway tower (149m, 376 flats), though plans were submitted in May 2009. Everyone is likely to leap off the fence if the Tube and the power station get the go-ahead this summer.
One unlikely new development bordering the Nine Elms area is delighted to be soaking up some of the “embassy quarter” glamour.
No one familiar with the former South Bank University building on Wandsworth Road would have connected the word glamour with the old lump of 1960s concrete. Yet the developer, Mount Anvil, has done an impressive job in a dingy corner of Stockwell. Crisp white render now covers the grey concrete and a concierge resides in an elegant lobby.
There are excellent views from the upper floors of the seven-storey, 172-unit complex. Some overlook Battersea Power Station, with a charming foreground of little Victorian terraces. Though it will be a building site for the next ten years, and some views over the river may be obscured, it will always be a fascinating cityscape.
Prices start at £205,000 for a 506sq ft studio, rising to £525,000 for a 1,022sq ft two-bedroom flat. The better the view, the higher the price. Only five of the 38 flats in the first phase remain unsold and the second phase of 69 flats is selling at a rate of about four a week.
“We did wonder about success here, but it has exceeded our expectations,” says Killian Hurley, chief executive of Mount Anvil, which bought the site at the height of the market in July 2007. Almost all the homes, he said, had sold for within 2 to 3 per cent of the asking price.
Hurley attributes this to luck, the planned Tube link and the US Embassy, the impact of which he believes will be “the same as the Olympics”.
Lucy Alexander Details: 0845 1800004, 

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