Hong Kong buyers to be offered Battersea Power Station flats

Consortium will offer Chinese city's buyers the chance to snap up apartments in first phase of Battersea redevelopment in the heart of London

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2013, 10:32am

Hong Kong property investors will be offered an opportunity to buy apartments at the Battersea Power Station redevelopment project in London later this month.

A consortium of two Malaysian firms, Sime Darby and SP Setia, and the Malaysian government's Employees Provident Fund, owns the 15.4 hectare site in south London. It has set up the Battersea Power Station Development Company to develop this mixed-use project.

Using a masterplan drawn up by the site's previous owner, Treasury Holdings, the developer wants to construct 3,500 homes and transform the derelict power station into a mixture of offices, retail, cultural and leisure facilities, including hotels.

The first phase of development will include 800 apartments on the western side of the site, sandwiched between a railway line and the power station.

Final planning permission from Wandsworth Borough Council was granted for these homes on December 14, and they will be offered to Hong Kong buyers later this month.

Scheduled for completion in 2016, the first phase would also include a riverside public park, shops, cafes, restaurants and a theatre.

When built, residents moving into apartments sold in the first phase will live next to a construction site for several years because restoration of the power station is not scheduled to end until 2018.

The redevelopment of the whole site is scheduled for completion in 2024.

Some Battersea residents and architectural heritage campaigners oppose the developer's plans.

The Battersea Power Station Community Group, which wants the power station nationalised and turned into a scientific cultural centre, will hold a protest against the proposed project.

It says the developer may use the disrepair of the chimneys and the rest of the power station as an excuse to knock the whole building down. The developer has promised not to do that.

"It [Battersea Power Station] is a defining feature of the London skyline and that gives the entire development a heritage, authenticity and rarity, which sets it apart from other developments," said Rob Tincknell, the chief executive of Battersea Power Station Development Company.

The Battersea Power Station site has been derelict since 1983, and several developers, including Parkview, have owned the parcel of prime riverfront since then. Funding problems and difficulties in attracting anchor retail tenants have helped scupper previous attempts to redevelop the site.

The site's current developer would finance the £8 billion (HK$100.4 billion) project with shareholder funds, proceeds from the sales of homes and credit sources, said Tincknell.

The development had not yet secured anchor tenants for its 550,000 sq ft of retail space, but discussions with prospective users were continuing, he said.

Tincknell said the scheme would be helped by proposed new rail links. Transport for London is consulting on plans to extend the Tube's Northern Line to Battersea.

If built, this could make the site more appealing to retailers, office users and residents.

Tincknell said Hong Kong investors ought to buy apartments because it would be a global brand and the last, large-scale, riverside redevelopment site in central London.

"The site has over 400 metres of Thames riverfront, and it is less than three kilometres from the Houses of Parliament. It is directly opposite Chelsea and within a stone's throw of Pimlico, Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Westminster," said Tincknell.

The Battersea Power Station site overlooks the Cringle Dock Transfer Station, which handles up to 5,000 tonnes of rubbish every week. The Greater London Authority says this site is a source of smell and noise.

Mark Broxup, general manager of the Western Riverside Waste Authority that manages the station, said new facilities could be created provided the developer agreed to pay for them.

Current plans were to have commercial buildings on the Battersea Power Station site built around the waste transfer station, so residents were not affected by smell and noise, a spokesman for the developer said.

Robert Hadfield, of property management company Pineflat, said better opportunities for investors lay elsewhere.

"The Tube [Northern Line] connection may well boost prices by the usual 10 per cent, but a long drawn-out building programme with completion delays could have an opposite effect," Hadfield warned.