Gleaming in the summer sunshine, the funky new Printworks in south London could be the shape of things to come, as the Elephant & Castle goes in for a mega-money clean-up and regeneration campaign to attract city workers and young buyers.
The £44 million scheme, which includes 43 properties aimed at key workers, will be completed this month. Would-be buyers can now add themselves to what is likely to be a long waiting list for the flats.
Unusually - and rather refreshingly - nurses, teachers, police officers and the like will have first dibs on homes at Printworks. They will get a 70 per cent discount, meaning they could secure a one-bedroom flat for £140,000 - payback time will come when they sell up.
Buying property in one of London's biggest regeneration zones - £1.5 billion will be spent in Elephant & Castle over the next couple of decades - has its pros and cons. The chance of making a healthy profit when prices rise must be balanced against the aggravation of living amid a vast building site for some years, though these days developers manage their build progress more closely.
'There are many reasons to consider a move to Elephant & Castle, not least its tremendous Tube links via the Northern line.'
Printworks, distinctively clad in bronze aluminium, is one of the first new developments to take shape in the area following the launch of the vast Strata tower earlier in the year. It has been designed by the award-winning Glenn Howells Architects for developer First Base, and of the 164 homes in the nine-storey, 100ft-high block, about a third are affordable (97 are being sold privately).
The affordable homes are made up of 25 one-bedroom, 14 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom flats. They are being sold under the Government's London-Wide Initiative, and the affordable buyers will pay 70 per cent of market value.
Thus, a £200,000 one-bedroom flat will be sold for £140,000, and a £320,000 two-bedroom flat for £224,000. Pricing for the three-bedroom flats is still being decided. The key-worker buyers will have to find a deposit and a mortgage for their share and, when they come to sell, will take 70 per cent of the money.
Watch the market
Barry Jessup, development director of First Base, said: "This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It is about providing affordable housing, but if the market rises, the key workers will still do well." He is keen to point out that the affordable flats have exactly the same spec as the private properties, including stone worktops, smart appliances and good-size private balconies. "They are all big enough for a table and chairs. I don't see the point of having balconies you can't use properly," he says. Interested key workers (and private buyers, too) are invited to register through Savills on 020 7613 1888, or by visiting printworks-elephant.com.
There are many reasons to consider a move to Elephant & Castle, not least its tremendous Tube links via the Northern line. The scheme is a rare opportunity for first-time buyers to get on the ladder in Zone 1. At the moment, the area would struggle to pass the "coffee shop test", with the grubby shopping centre and hideous underpass roundabout a distinctly menacing proposition, but changes are afoot.