attersea Power Station, the UK’s most expensive ever historic redevelopment, will open its doors to the public on Friday after decades teetering on the brink of irreversible dereliction.
The six-acre, red brick power station is the centrepiece of the £9 billion scheme with 254 homes above 110 stores, many of which will open to shoppers on launch day, ahead of Christmas.
This is the start of a flurry of 2022 launches in the new urban village including the unveiling of 204 studios and apartments starting at £560,000 — the first new homes to go on sale across the site in eight years.
Buyers will join celebrity residents including Sting and Trudie Styler, Bear Grylls and Gordon Ramsay in the new riverside neighbourhood.
Boiler House Square gardens at the power station
/ John Sturrock
The art deco building, on 42 acres of former industrial land, was crumbling when it was bought by a Malaysian consortium in 2012, after 30 years of aborted plans including a theme park and a stadium for Chelsea FC.
Over the past decade the project to rescue the much-loved structure has ridden property market fluctuations and, at points, courted controversy.
Dozens of brands are now putting the finishing touches to their shopfronts in the two turbine halls before opening. Cartier and Omega sit alongside car showrooms for Polestar and Genesis. Customers can test drive vehicles from the basement car park below.
Brands are now putting the finishing touches to their shopfronts in the two turbine halls before opening on Friday
/ Backdrop Productions
Joe & the Juice, Where the Pancakes Are and Poke House are among the eateries. There is a 24,000 sq ft food hall, a cocktail bar, cinema and Lift 109, which takes paying customers 109 metres to the top of one of the four restored chimneys.
Next year Apple will move in, making six floors of the old boiler room its new London campus.
The affordable housing question
Even in the final run-up to the eight metre-high corten steel doors being heaved open this week there are questions being asked about the number of affordable homes, the impact on house prices in a low-income area and the level of foreign ownership.
“Overwhelmingly [the redevelopment] is a positive thing but there is a deeper question that has gone unanswered about why, with the amount of money ploughed into this project, more of it has not spread further to social housing tenants and low-income families in the area,” a partner at one of the leading international estate agents tells Homes & Property.
A total of 386 affordable homes have been built for social rent and shared ownership managed by Peabody.
Battersea Power Station Development Corporation says this equates to 20 per cent of the scheme so far. However, it is just under 10 per cent of the 4,000 homes planned overall.
Meriam Makiya, head of residential at BPSDC, says it has agreed a mechanism with Wandsworth borough council that provides the possibility for more affordable homes in the future, which could push the proportion up.
It is a divisive topic. Patricia Brown, chair of the London Festival of Architecture and vice chair of the British Property Federation, says: “The number of affordable homes in the plan had to be revised down because of the massive cost of restoration and because the developer was expected to provide the infrastructure.” Brown is referring to the £300 million BPSDC put towards the extension of the Northern line.
“This project has had so many false dawns,” she adds. “But it is a brilliant addition to London and in a few years’ time people will be flocking there.”
The art deco building is the centrepiece of London’s newest neighbourhood/ Jason Hawkes
In 2013 when plans for the first phase, Circus West Village, were unveiled, it was widely reported that the homes had been marketed in Singapore and many of them sold off-plan to Malaysian buyers. The next phase was advertised in London first.
Makiya says the market has turned recently and domestic buyers have started to dominate sales, with buyers ranging from young professionals and families to downsizers relocating into urban areas with nearby amenities.
“Over the past 18 months, interest has come from a predominantly British market, accounting for 85 per cent of sales,” she says.
Penny Holley, 71, moved from Oxfordshire and bought a two-bedroom apartment in the power station. She is looking forward to the shops opening.
“There’s a brilliant sense of community due to all the bars, cafes and restaurants we have on the doorstep. I am always bumping into neighbours in the spots already open in Circus West Village. It makes it a really sociable place to live,” she says.
Popular groups that draw residents from the surrounding area into the development include the community choir, which has over 100 members. The children’s playground brings families on to the site, while Battersea Academy for Skills & Employment (Base) runs skills workshops.
Ryan Mario Yasin at his Battersea flat. His clothing company, Petit Pli, is opening a store inside the power station
/ Charlie JH Round-Turner, 2022
Ryan Mario Yasin has used Base to find workers for his ethical children’s clothing shop, Petit Pli. He bought a two-bedroom flat in Circus West Village in 2017. He says: “There’s a growing community and I use the residents’ app to sell and donate items. It used to be that it was just us residents who would hang out in the village but now footfall has increased massively as people flow through the power station to get to Battersea Park.”
Only last week the chief executive of BPSDC, Simon Murphy, said he “continued to be confident” in selling homes in a cooling London property market.
The length of the project means it has outlived short-term property cycles and bumps in the road. For example, some overseas buyers walked away after the Brexit vote despite having put down 10 per cent deposits, according to one estate agent who heads up the south-west London division of a large firm.
“We have had to overcome various challenges over the past 10 years, but we have adapted our strategy to ensure sales success,” says Makiya. And the numbers speak for themselves. “We are now 97 per cent sold across the first three phases,” she says.
The view from the roof terrace of a Sky Villa, one of which is currently for sale for £7 million
/ Taran Wilkhu
The apartments in the power station — from £865,000 to £9.1 million — are also more than 90 per cent sold. The Sky Villas are the showpiece — one three-bedroom duplex on sale for £7 million has an electric roof lantern that slides back to reveal a private roof terrace with one of the four chimneys at one end and views of the London skyline.
Inside one of the Sky Villas, the showpiece homes on top of the power station/ Taran Wilkhu
The first new homes in eight years
The next phase of homes to go on sale is considerably cheaper than those in the power station itself.
A new collection of 204 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments will launch on Friday October 21. These are the first new-build homes on sale for eight years, not including properties that have been bought on site and resold.
Koa at Electric Boulevard is the next block of homes to go on sale. Studios cost from £560,000/ Handout
This complex at the south end of the site near the Tube is on the new pedestrianised high street Electric Boulevard where stores, restaurants, bars and offices will open steadily over the next year. Zara and Zara Home are among the brands opening this weekend.
Residents of this building, named Koa at Electric Boulevard, will have access to rooftop gardens, a sky lounge, bar and cinema. Prices for a studio start at £560,000.
House prices in Battersea have risen eight per cent over the past year according to Rightmove, taking the average to £937,021.
Typical values are driven up by some of the most desirable roads in London on the south side of the river, such as Prince of Wales Drive, as well as new-build penthouses.
Despite the cost-of-living crisis and rising interest rates, analysts at the property group JLL expect prices to continue to rise this year as a direct result of the upgrade to the public realm around the power station bringing cohesion to the area and linking homes, river and park, and the new Tube station.
“Ten years on from the acquisition of Battersea Power Station prices in the Battersea area have risen significantly. Comparing values achieved for existing flats in 2022 with 2012 prices shows 48 per cent growth,” JLL’s report reads.
It forecasts a 27 per cent rise in prices in the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea belt between now and 2026.
Battersea Power Station in the late Nineties
Timeline of a restoration
From power station to power hub
1927 Battersea Power Station proposed
1929 Work begins on site and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott architect joins the team
1933 The first two chimneys are completed
1933 ‘A’ station generates the first electricity
1935 ‘A’ station (control room A and turbine hall A) completed
1937 Construction of ‘B’ station commences
1941 Third chimney is completed
1955 Fourth chimney and B station completed. The power station is now at peak capacity
1975 A station closed down
1980 Power station awarded listed status
1983 Power station completely closed down
1987 Site is purchased by Battersea Leisure: Theme Park scheme
1993 Power station bought by Parkview
2006 Power station bought by Treasury Holdings
2011 New site masterplan designed by Rafael Vinoly gains planning permission
2012 Power station bought by current shareholders
2013 Work begins on phase 1 (Circus West Village)
2014 Work begins on phase 2 (the power station and chimneys)
2015 Work begins on phase 3 (Battersea Roof Gardens and Prospect Place)
2017 Tunnelling for the Northern Line extension commences, chimney replacement completed, phase 1 completed
2021 Power station residents move in, Tube station opens to public
2022 Power station opens to public
Phases 3-8 continue: 750,000 sq ft of office space, 1,372 new homes, 130,000 sq ft retail