Of all the gleaming spires being built at Nine Elms in SW8, Riverlight is the first to approach completion.
This complex of just over 800 flats was designed by Lord Rogers and its grandest penthouses are currently changing hands for more than £8 million. But first-time buyers can now get a slice of the Riverlight action, too — for just under £150,000.
Viridian Housing has 116 one- and two-bedroom flats earmarked for buyers priced off the property ladder, in a 10-storey block in the five-acre Riverlight compound, being developed by St James. They will be ready to move into this summer.
“It is just a great opportunity to buy a home in this regeneration area, and the monthly costs are really reasonable,” says James McPhail, the housing association’s senior sales and marketing executive.
The homes, at the Vauxhall end of Nine Elms, will be five minutes’ walk from the new Northern line Tube station when it opens in 2020. For now, the nearest station is Vauxhall, in Zone 1 on the Victoria line, a 10-minute walk away.
Prices start at £149,850 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat with a balcony. Once mortgage of £797.42, rent of £93.66 and service charge of £220 are included, the total monthly cost is slightly over £1,111.
Two-bedroom flats start at £212,468 for a 25 per cent share, and the total monthly cost for these properties adds up to just under £1,500.
As with all blocks, prices rise as you get higher up the building, reflecting the great views across the Thames. “You would be hard pushed to rent a similar property in this area for those prices,” says McPhail.
The rebirth of Nine Elms, with the new US embassy and rebooted Battersea Power Station, is one of the most significant central London regenerations of the last decade, but recent reports suggest the area is being flooded with new flats, leading to price drops.
The zone will eventually include more than 20,000 new flats, and some of those sold off-plan to buyers keen to “flip” the properties before they are completed have been disappointed, with reports that they are cutting their resale prices to find a buyer. However, taking a longer-term view, experts believe that the site will fill up with buyers over the next three to five years and prices will begin to rise again.
CENTRAL LOCATION IS KEY
Another concern about buying in a regeneration zone, even one as well connected as Nine Elms, is the prospect of living among building sites for years. “As regeneration areas go it is reasonably established,” says McPhail, adding that both Vauxhall and Pimlico are an easy walk away, while the South Bank is a pleasant cycle ride along the river.
“Embassy Gardens, the development across the road, already has people living there, and there is a Waitrose open, and our block at Riverlight will have a Sainsbury’s on the ground floor. There is also the new Nine Elms Tavern — things are opening up. I have done regeneration areas where you do feel like a bit of a pioneer, as there is nothing there. This isn’t like that, and of course it is so central to the rest of London.”
THE KNOWLEDGE NINE ELMS
Past: Nine Elms was originally fetid marshland, drained in the 15th century and used as a market garden to grow produce for the city.
Future: when regeneration is complete more than 30,000 people will live at Nine Elms.
Trivial pursuit: more than a mile of Thames riverside, currently impassable, is being opened up as part of the regeneration of Nine Elms and will form an extension to the South Bank.
What it costs: an average property in SW8 costs £709,231, down 6.9 per cent in the last six months according to Rightmove.
First-time buy: there are no marketprice bargains to be had in glitzy Nine Elms, but there are good-value older blocks along the Wandsworth Road. Bairstow Eves has a two-bedroom flat, slightly tired but roomy and with a garden, for £385,000.
Landmarks: the giant new sugar cube-shaped American embassy is due to open next year.
Eat: something delicious and veggie at Bonnington Café, Vauxhall.
Drink: an alfresco glass of rosé — it is summer, after all — at The Magic Garden pub in Battersea Park Road.
Buy: window shop for interiors inspiration at the antiques shops in Pimlico Road… then try to find something similar on eBay.
Walk: wander through the wilds of nearby Battersea Park.