New era for Nine Elms: first residents move into an area bigger than Hyde Park with 20,000 new homes

London's trailblazers this week move into the first homes to be finished in Battersea Power Station's vast regeneration area - the 500-acre Nine Elms district.

With characteristic bravura, Mayor Boris Johnson has called the renewal under way at Nine Elms in Battersea “the greatest transformational story in the world’s greatest city”.

Certainly the pace of change at this former industrial wasteland bounded by the Thames has been faster than anyone dared imagine three years ago when the first diggers rolled into action at Riverlight, the first of the “new-era” apartment schemes to be launched — and now the first to be completed.

From early November, buyers who reserved flats off-plan in 2011 take possession of their homes. It was a bold decision for them  to invest in a raw, Tube-starved district. The US State Department had already made the extraordinary decision to move to Nine Elms from Mayfair, but Battersea Power Station was derelict, and Malaysian tycoons had not even come near. Yet the power station was key to regenerating the area.

Those early buyers are in for a feast of change, both in domestic architecture and cultural collaborations. A new arts venue, StudioRCA, is set to become the main cultural hub for the rapidly maturing Nine Elms district. A partnership between the Royal College of Art and developer St James, it precedes the arrival of Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery in nearby Vauxhall.



Designed by One Hyde Park architects Rogers Stirk Harbour, Riverlight has six waterfront pavilions with 813 homes, reached via glass-walled lifts on the building’s exterior. Only a few flats remain for sale, priced from £800,000. Call 020 7870 9620.

If you want to buy in Nine Elms today you have far more choice than the 2011 pioneers — but don’t get carried away by the dazzling off-plan brochures.Buyers should scrutinise the floor plans and walk the site. It’s not all about price — it’s about exactly what you get for your money, and with so much choice you can compare deals. 

Look at the design quality, materials and the spec. The relative size of flats may be important but consider the views, the service charges, likely long-term value and easily accessible community extras, such as bookable cinema suites, on-site  gyms, parking, security and landscaped space.

Latest launch: One Nine Elms, with 437 flats, will include a 56-storey tower and is one of a dozen local projects either under way or imminent

This development of 437 flats and a five-star hotel includes 56-storey City Tower. It is the latest launch and one of 12 projects either under way or imminent. The future shape and character of this neighbourhood is much more defined, though critics say the masterplan lacks architectural cohesion, with individualistic buildings competing with each other rather than working together.

By designating Nine Elms an “opportunity area”, the Mayor fast-tracked the planning system. Land swallowed up by factory sheds and gas holders has been reclassified to residential and commercial use, boosting its value and handing developers a Lottery win.



20,000 new homes are coming to a Zone 1 area bigger than Hyde Park and spanning a mile and a half of riverbank. There will be two new Tube stations and a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Thames to Pimlico.

This is almost a surreal relocation to place the European HQ for the world’s greatest superpower. Yet other diplomatic missions have been swift to follow suit. The Dutch Embassy is coming to Nine Elms and the Chinese government has shortlisted the area. Blue chip corporations are likely to follow, which is boosting local investment appeal. 

Battersea property values have risen with astonishing speed and in some areas have more than doubled. However, it is feared an oversupply of homes could cause prices to stagnate. 

Kieran Chalker was one of the first to move across the river with his property company Garton Jones, based in Chelsea and Westminster. They opened a branch on Albert Embankment.

“Already there was a flow of buyers crossing the Thames to live in new developments on the south bank, so it seemed a no-brainer,” he says. “Nowhere else in London is there a project of such scale and ambition. It is bringing a new world for residents.

“Nine Elms is going to be a giant commercial district too, far bigger than Canary Wharf, with theatres, libraries, hotels, private members clubs and leisure facilities.”



View of an icon: the roof garden at Foster + Partners' Skyline flats beside Battersea Power Station. In phase three of development

HOMES WITHIN A LANDMARK: Battersea Power Station
The power station, positioned at the area’s commercial heart or “town  centre”, is capturing the imagination of home buyers who have grown up with this sensational urban landmark.

Its £8 billion transformation will provide 3,500,000sq ft of shops, offices and restaurants as well as 4,000 homes, the first of which will be ready in 2016. Two phases of apartments sold instantly and the third phase of homes, a series of dramatic, titanium-clad blocks by LA-based starchitect Frank Gehry, has just been unveiled, with prices starting at £495,000 for a studio and £3.2 million for a four-bedroom townhouse. Call 020 7501 0678. Flats in the iconic power  station have sold for premium prices — £800,000 for a studio.

“We could have opted for an entirely residential scheme and made three times as much money,” says Rob Tincknell, chief executive of Battersea Power Station Development Company. “But we chose to make it a place with a mix of uses because we believe it should be place-making — a diverse community with authenticity and character.”

Nine Elms is not an overnight transformation. Those buying off-plan homes will have to wait, with 15 years to completion. It lies between Vauxhall and Chelsea Bridges, and between the Thames and Wandsworth Road. A railway line cuts through it, giving rise to development on the “wrong side of the tracks”.  It takes the best part of 30 minutes to walk along Nine Elms Lane from Vauxhall Cross, currently a chaotic, traffic-clogged swirl, past the power station and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to the western end of the regeneration area, next to Battersea Park. 

Some people want to be in the power station and nowhere else, while others prefer a smaller site, or a home nearer the Tube. Nine Elms will be a collection of high-rise and low-rise neighbourhoods, and they won’t suit everyone.

“Flipping” sales are already appearing, and developers are raising prices with each new phase. Since 2011, the average value of a home here has jumped from about £800 to £1,400 per square foot, or more than £2,000 a square foot for river-facing penthouses. A new linear park linking the river and various developments including the US Embassy will be the pedestrian spine of the new district. Many buyers are likely to be swayed by proximity to one of the two new Northern line stations, one of which will be within the power station complex.

Nine Elms Point, a Barratt development of 737 homes launching next week, is being built alongside the other Tube  station, a stone’s throw from Vauxhall Cross. Prices start at £449,000, reflecting the grittier location, though the surroundings are set to change here, too. Call CBRE on 020 7182 2477.

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