There are few urban renewal developments anywhere in the world that can compete with the ongoing King’s Cross rejuvenation in London. The long-term, multi-billion pound project is one of the most ambitious anywhere and it deserves the press its generating. King’s Cross has almost single-handedly brought the area back from the brink of urban oblivion.
Cutting Edge Design
But it’s not alone. London is a leader in the renewal arena, and just across the Thames is the ongoing Battersea Power Station redevelopment. The £8 billion project has been called the “jewel in the central London crown” by Prime Minister David Cameron (despite the existence of King’s Cross) and will eventually become a city within the city. The 42-acre former industrial site will boast 4,000 homes, nearly 300 shops, restaurants and offices and 18 acres of public space. Battersea will be eventually be the cornerstone of the 26-project Nine Elms district on the south bank, and will be getting two new Tube stations.
Similar to the Crossrail line, Tube infrastructure is crucial to healthy urban development according to Simon Murphy, CFO of the Battersea Power Station Development Company. With a station slated for just 250 metres from the latest residential projects Murphy notes London’s infrastructure has some of the heftiest tax investment in the world, and that it will pay off with 25,000 new jobs created in the area as well as the projected 40 million annual visitors. As a retail, leisure and cultural hub, the Battersea district — already one of the most photographed single structures on the globe — is expected to contribute £1 billion to the UK economy per year for at least a generation once it’s completed in 2025.
The first phase, Circus West, to be completed will come online in 2016, and the Power Station itself (Phase 2, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects), which also features residences, a boutique hotel and ultra-chic office space, will be open to the public for the first time in three decades in 2019. In total, the project will also feature 2.5 million square feet of food and beverage, retail and office space. Notably, BPSDC is not looking to the mainstream for any of its commercial tenants: there will be no department stores in the area, only small retail outlets to complement the revitalisation of the station.
And indeed, the open concept, modern interior design of the commercial space is a major selling point for the modern firms and brands the address expects to attract. “Inside the station is a showstopper,” says Murphy. “We want to make it cool, high quality indie and emerging brands. We’ll be talking to existing brands in Paris, New York, Asia. There will be a retail mix you can’t get anywhere else in London — or the world.”
For investors looking at Battersea and assuming it’s too off the core, August research by Knight Frank on London’s future states, “The ‘central London market’ comprises a much broader definition than just the boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.” The agency’s report also noted that in the rental market, 35 percent of tenants in private leasing are between 25 and 34 years old — and represent precisely the kind of high tech, creative industries demographic that will be working in places like King’s Cross and Battersea. They don’t want to live too far from work either: distance to work (or school) is the second most important factor in rental decisions after affordability. Knight Frank also noted neighbouring Nine Elms as a future residential hotspot for its estimated 18,000 homes.
With London investment strength showing no signs of waning any time soon, Battersea has leapt to the fore due to its design forward nature and relative value. The third phase of residential development is 539 homes designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners and Frank Gehry. Located on a newly pedestrianised high street, the Battersea Roof Gardens and Prospect Place will offer purchasers spacious flats inside innovatively designed buildings and feature some type of outdoor space, be it a winter garden, balcony or terrace.
As the name suggests, flats at Foster + Partners’ Battersea Roof Gardens property will be complemented by a unique landscaped garden stretching the length of the building, perfect for either finding a quiet corner in the city or al fresco entertaining. Its rippling façade provides a counterpoint to the boxy functionality of the power station and the interiors hark back to the 1930s when the plant was originally built. Frank Gehry’s Prospect Place is a typically Gehry cluster — called the Flower — of five buildings inspired by London’s Regency terrace houses. No two flats are alike, but all showcase Japanese design influences in layering and sliding elements.
Battersea Roof Gardens and Prospect Place comprise a range of studio to four-bedroom residences and penthouses ranging from 380 to 2,790 square feet, with penthouses ranging up to 3,600. The developments will feature a pair of 7,000-square foot residents’ lounges, a 5,400-square foot gym and rooftop gardens with barbeque facilities (at Roof Gardens). Prices at Battersea’s latest phase begin at £495,000 (HK$5.8 million) for studio units, and are scheduled for completion in late-2018.