Over the last 20 years most of its industrial waterfront has been swept away, the chemical works, candle and starch factories now almost a distant memory, while the riverbank from Albert Bridge to Wandsworth Bridge has been transformed by modern flats, public walkways, new restaurants and bars.
Pretty 18th-century St Mary’s Church is now dwarfed by the arresting Richard Rogers-designed Montevetro building in Battersea Church Road, the street that winds through the heart of the old village to cobbled Battersea Square with its cafés, bars, and Gordon Ramsay’s London House restaurant.
At the heart of it: St Mary’s Church in Battersea Church Road, which winds through the the old village
The redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, meanwhile, will add 3,400 new homes, shops and a riverside park to the mix — the first 800 homes have been snapped up — while a Northern line extension serving the area is planned.
In the 1830s the arrival of the railways shifted the heart of Battersea half a mile inland to what is now called Clapham Junction. Long-standing Battersea residents constantly remind newcomers they live in Battersea, not Clapham. There was outrage recently when the big branch of Asda in Lavender Hill started calling itself the Clapham branch.
Now it calls itself the Clapham Junction branch. However, a mixture of old and new is creating a positive buzz in one corner of the neighbourhood — the area north of Parkgate Road between Albert and Battersea Bridges, which is now being called the Battersea Creative Quarter. Around Ransome’s Dock, in a mixture of modern and converted warehouses, thriving architecture, fashion and entertainment businesses have found a home.
Royal College of Art: Battersea has established itself as a thriving centre for the arts trade
Top architects firm Foster + Partners has its sleek, glass riverside office block in the area, while Victoria Beckham’s fashion empire sits conveniently close to her management company, Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment. Clapham resident Vivienne Westwood’s headquarters is here, along with architect Will Alsop’s Testbed 1 art space, while the Royal College of Art has an outpost in Battersea Bridge Road.
What there is to buy
Battersea has a mix of modern riverside apartments, spacious mansion flats around 200-acre Battersea Park, Victorian terrace houses and estates of social housing.
Flats in two modern blocks designed by two of the country’s top architects — Richard Rogers’s Montevetro and Norman Foster’s Albion Riverside — are priced at £1,200 to £1,700 per square foot, and sometimes more.
The most expensive flat currently for sale is a three-bedroom Montevetro home, on the market for £7.5million. The most expensive house is a red-brick Victorian terrace with six bedrooms in Albert Bridge Road, at £3.75 million.
The most expensive mansion flat, at Albany Mansions in Albert Bridge Road, has four bedrooms and is on sale for £2.85million. The most sought-after mansion flats have views of Battersea Park and are on the first and second floors, as only York Mansions has a lift, although Overstrand Mansions, which has secure parking, is also popular. Price per square foot in these two blocks is about £1,500. Other mansion flats start at about £1,000.
£400,000: a two-bedroom flat with stylish interior in Henty Close
The cheapest Battersea period houses are on the Shaftesbury Estate off Latchmere Road. Built as social housing in the 1870s by the Artizans, Labourers & General Dwellings Company, the estate is now owned by the Peabody housing association, and many of the homes are owner-occupied. A two-bedroom house in Birley Street is for sale for £650,000. It is possible to get a former right-to-buy flat on a social housing estate for under the stamp duty threshold. One in Pennethorne House, Wye Street, is bang on the limit at £250,000 but needs renovating.
One-bedroom flat: £449,000
Two-bedroom flat: £719,000
Two-bedroom house: £730,000
Three-bedroom house: £1.37 million
Four-bedroom house: £1.57 million
Renting: Emma Farmar, lettings manager at Douglas & Gordon’s Battersea office, says one-bedroom flats start at about £340 a week and two-bedroom flats range from £350 to £400 a week and are popular with young sharers straight out of university. There is also strong demand for family houses, and with rental yields under three per cent, renting and buying can cost roughly the same.
One-bedroom flat: £1,611 a month
Two-bedroom flat: £2,104 a month
Two-bedroom house: £2,014 a month
Three-bedroom house: £2,903 a month
Four-bedroom house: £3,905 a month
What’s new: after years of false starts the Battersea Power Station development will transform the district east of Battersea Park. The listed Thirties power station, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, will be restored, there will be 3,400 new homes, a riverside park and a new high street. The first phase of 800 homes sold out quickly after they went on sale in February last year even though they won’t be completed until the end of 2016 or early 2017. A new extension to the Northern line is due to open in 2020.
Battersea Power station: is at the epicentre of a project to transform the area
Buyers who don’t want to wait that long for a home in Battersea could try Cobalt Place in Orbel Street. There are 100 one- and two-bedroom flats in two buildings separated by a courtyard garden, along with a new building for Saint John Bosco College. Prices start at £435,000 for a one-bedroom flat, for completion in the spring or summer next year. See cobaltplace.co.uk or call Lauristons Estate Agents on 020 8879 9099.
The Cubitt comprises 29 one- and two-bedroom flats with a roof garden in Chatfield Road, off York Road, by developer High Castle. The one-bedroom flats start at £429,950. Visit thecubitt.com or call Hamptons on 020 7758 8487.
Battersea Square Mews is a development of five townhouses and four flats in Battersea Square, by Elephant London. One-bedroom flats start at £415,000 and four-bedroom houses start at £2,475,000. See batterseasquaremews.com or call James Pendletonon 020 3137 8833.
Sesame Apartments is a development of 80 flats off Shuttleworth Road with a roof garden, with prices from £575,000 for a two-bedroom flat. See sesameapartments.co.uk or call Lauristons on 0870 600 3690.
Travel: Battersea residents rely on Clapham Junction station with frequent trains to Victoria, journey time six minutes, and Waterloo, with a journey time of eight minutes. There are also trains from Battersea Park to Victoria in four minutes, and from Queenstown Road to Victoria in 18 minutes and Waterloo in 11 minutes. All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,256.
Best roads: Albert Bridge Road and Prince of Wales Drive, for the houses and mansion flats overlooking Battersea Park.
Postcode: SW11, the Battersea postcode, also includes the roads off Northcote Road between Wandsworth and Clapham Commons — now considered a district in its own right and referred to by many as “between the Commons”.
Up-and-coming areas: there are pretty two-bedroom houses on the Shaftesbury Estate, and slightly larger Victorian houses in the area off Falcon Road known as “Little India” — in Cabul, Candahar, Khyber and Afghan Roads. Three-bedroom houses there sell for about £900,000.
£950,000: A three-bedroom end of terrace in Battersea's ever popular Shaftesbury Estate
The area attracts: estate agent Mark Hutton, at the local branch of Douglas & Gordon, says Battersea has a strong local home buying market but there is also a migration south from Chelsea of buyers seeking more for their money. “In the morning, Chelsea residents cross Albert Bridge to walk their dogs in Battersea Park and then ask themselves what matters more — being close to King’s Road shops, or near the green spaces of Battersea Park.”
Staying power: families who would previously have moved out of London to the country to bring up their children have stayed in the Battersea area, and those children are also staying in their turn, often helped by parents who have profited from the generous price rises of their houses over the years.
Schools: Battersea’s state primary schools are mostly judged “good” by Ofsted, while Chesterton in Dagnall Street is judged “outstanding”. Bolingbroke Academy (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Wakehurst Road is a state school that opened in September 2012. Saint John Bosco College (co-ed, ages 11 to 18), a Catholic state school that opened in Wimbledon in 2011, moves to a new building in Battersea in September next year.
Many families settle in Battersea for the good choice of private schools, particularly prep schools, here and in nearby Clapham. Newton Prep (co-ed, ages three to 13) is a very popular prep school opposite Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in Battersea Park Road. Thomas’s Battersea (co-ed, ages four to 13) is in Battersea High Street and there is another branch, Thomas’s Clapham (co-ed, age four to 13) in Broomwood Road.
Eaton House the Manor School on Clapham Common Northside has a nursery (co-ed, ages two to four); a pre-prep (boys, ages four to eight); a prep school (boys, ages eight to 13) and a girls’ school (ages four to 11). Broomwood Hall (co-ed, ages four to eight, girls, ages eight to 13) operates from a number of buildings in Clapham and Streatham, most notably in Nightingale Lane; boys then go to Northcote Lodge (ages eight to 13) in Bolingbroke Grove.
Shop and restaurants: Battersea has plenty of shops and restaurants — close to Clapham Junction, up St John’s Road, continuing along Northcote Road and up the hill from the junction along Lavender Hill and Battersea Rise. There is a Debenhams department store on the corner of Lavender Hill and St John’s Road.
Northcote Road is dominated by mid-market chains such as Jigsaw, Whistles and Phase Eight and youth brands White Stuff and Jack Wills. Two long-standing butchers, Dove & Son and Hennessy, along with sports shop Capstick and jewellers Asquiths have survived other local independents. In Battersea Park Road, designer lighting shop Geoffrey Harris is closing down and prices have been slashed by a quarter.
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s London House restaurant in Battersea Square has brought fine dining to the area. Other local eateries include Soif, a French bistro and wine bar in Battersea Rise, part of the Terroirs group, which has pioneered natural and organic wines; Boqueria Market, a tapas bar in Queenstown Road; the eccentric Fish in a Tie Mediterranean restaurant in Falcon Road, and two imports from Brixton Village — sourdough pizza restaurant Franco Manca in Northcote Road, and KaoSarn, a Thai restaurant in St John’s Hill.
Open space: For many people, and not just south Londoners, Battersea Park is their favourite green space in London. Carefully restored 10 years ago at a cost of over £11 million, the former Festival of Britain fountains with 50 jets of water are a breathtaking sight. The park has many other highlights, including a boating lake and café, a riverside walk of more than half a mile, a children’s zoo, an art gallery and the famous Buddhist Peace Pagoda.
Battersea Park: attracts visitors from all over the capital
Leisure and the arts: Battersea Arts Centre in Lavender Hill is a leading fringe venue with a history of developing shows which go on to become West End hits. Theatre503, above the Latchmere pub on the corner of Latchmere Road and Battersea Park Road, is also a fringe venue.
The nearest cinema is the Cineworld multiplex in the Southside shopping centre in Wandsworth town centre. The Latchmere Leisure Centre in Burns Road houses the local council-owned swimming pool.
Council: Wandsworth council is Conservative-controlled, and Band D council tax for the 2014/2015 year stands at £681.77.
Three things about Battersea:
What does Battersea’s Shaftesbury Estate have in common with Battersea Power Station?
There’s a piggy link. The Shaftesbury Estate was built in an area of former piggeries, while iconic images of Battersea Power Station include the one on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album, Animals, featuring a huge inflatable pig flying between two of the chimneys.
What historic appointment did the former Battersea council make in 1913?
This was the year John Archer was elected as the country’s first black mayor.
What is the link between Wandsworth council’s coat of arms and one of the main roads running through Battersea?
Lavender Hill runs from Clapham Junction to Queenstown Road and its name is a reminder that before the Industrial Revolution, Battersea, then a mainly agricultural area, grew lavender for the perfume industry. The Wandsworth coat of arms has a dove holding a sprig of lavender in its beak.