A brief update on Battersea Power Station and the Nine Elms development

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As construction work progresses on the Battersea Power Station site, the Battersea Power Station Development Company’s (BPSDC) ambitious plans for the project appear to be moving rapidly forwards too; last week it was revealed that the company have made an official bid for the proposed Crossrail 2 line to serve the location. An extension of the Northern Line, Charing Cross Branch, is already planned (and will be partially financed by Sime Darby, the Malaysian consortium behind the Battersea Power Station Development Company) from Kennington to the Power Station. The Evening Standard reports that TfL is citing this as a reason to distance itself from the proposal, insisting Battersea Power Station will already be adequately connected.

Meanwhile, on the ground Everyman continue to lease an area in front of the Power Station to screen films and sell expensive, ‘ethnic’ food in the evenings from Thursday to Sunday. Last week our interns, Charlotte and Marta, risked death by falling chimney chunk to check out the event and sneak some surreptitious footage. Surprisingly they survived, reporting only giant Jenga pieces flying around.

Elsewhere, on the neighbouring Nine Elms site, all-consuming construction work has spilled out onto the Thames Path, limiting access to Tideway Village, a floating community of houseboats now overhung by the Riverlight development buildings.

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Congress is about to pull funding on the £600m US embassy

We just received more evidence to support the flawed nature of the BPS scheme. The US Congress is withdrawing the money for developing the US embassy, according to a detail contained in the latest bipartisan budget deal. And even more good news: the decision could also affect Boris Johnson’s plan for the Northern Line Extension. As reported on the Financial Times and Buzzfeed. This will seriously affect the Nine Elms Battersea opportunity area.

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The enormous glass cube which was about to become the US embassy is currently being built on the south side of the Thames in central London. It was seen as key to spurring the redevelopment of the Nine Elms area of the capital and led to talk of a new “embassy quarter”, with the Netherlands and China also considering plans to move their diplomatic missions to the same area. Transport for London documents state that the “first major contributor” to the enterprise zone “is expected to be the US Embassy”.

Together with the news that the development officer at the Battersea Power Station Development Company is leaving the project in May. Looks like Peak Power Station has been reached and is already downsizing.

Alistair Shaw, who joined the Battersea development team in February 2013, handed his notice in before Christmas and will leave in May to pursue other development interests in the West End and central London. Shaw previously worked as the head of retail development at Stanhope on projects including Hereford town centre, which is due for completion later this year.

A revised planning application for Battersea Power Station has been submitted and will be heard in April, while a reserved matters planning application for the high street element of the scheme is expected to be submitted in April.

Seems like some positive changes are finally happening.

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Business model of Battersea Power Station flawed

The business model of the development of the Battersea Power Station is flawed. It only needs a slight shift in interest rates or property taxes, or for the value of the pound to rise relative to Asian currencies for the foreign investor led property market boom to collapse according to Bloomberg.

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It is this flawed and precarious property bubble that Transport for London (TfL) is sinking billions of pounds of public money to prop up.

At the recent public inquiry into the Northern Line Extension the response from the representatives of TfL to the many compelling arguments against the scheme made in Battersea Power Station Community Group’s objection was to insist the NLE was not aimed at solving local transport infrastructure issues but to enhance property values in the so called Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area.

In this time of austerity can this really be a good use of public money? It is also probably one of the most useless, unwanted and extravagant public infrastructure projects ever proposed.

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London’s status as a magnet for foreign property investment was burnished in the years after the financial crisis by an investor-friendly tax regime and the falling value of the pound. That may be changing.

A new capital-gains tax on homes sold by people living abroad and a growing British economy that’s lifting the currency may dull the capital city’s appeal to property buyers from abroad. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced the new capital-gains tax in a statement to Parliament on Dec. 5. It will apply to “future gains” after the tax goes into effect in April 2015, he said without specifying the size of the levy. Capital-gains tax rates for second homes of U.K. residents currently range from 18 percent to 28 percent. Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, head of the Liberal Democrats, which govern in a coalition with Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, support an annual levy on houses valued at more than 2 million pounds known as the mansion tax. Cameron opposes the idea.

Other than that, South Asian buyers account for two-thirds of new London homes sold before completion, according to Land Securities Group Plc, the largest U.K. real estate investment trust. The high-end market is dependent on pre-sales to overseas buyers to help get development finance and deal with rising land costs, Michael Lister, a lecturer at University of Westminster, said in a Nov. 22 interview. Singapore and Hong Kong, two destinations also favored by south Asian buyers, have introduced measures to cool property prices and curb speculation. Singapore linked borrowers’ maximum debt levels to their incomes and raised transaction and capital-gains taxes. Hong Kong has increased minimum down payments six times in fewer than three years and in February doubled stamp-duty taxes for all properties over HK$2 million ($258,000).

To end with, the pound plummeted against a basket of major currencies after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., making London homes a relative bargain for wealthy investors and buyers from emerging Asian economies. The Singapore dollar gained 60 percent against the pound from September 2007 to June this year and the Malaysian ringgit climbed by 50 percent. Since then, the pound has risen 6.8 percent and 12 percent respectively against the Asian currencies.

Farmer of EC Harris said:

“One of the key drivers around demand in that market, particularly from the Far East, has been the relative weakness of sterling over the last three or four years,”“The improving economy is good for U.K. Plc but it might make residential investment slightly less competitive or good value in the eyes of the international community.”

View the full article.

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What a way to run a Railway Inquiry

From day one TfL (Transport for London) made it clear the proposed Northern Line Extension (NLE) was not about addressing transport infrastructure but about enhancing property values in the so called Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area.

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The only question the NLE seems to address is how, in the middle of a freezing winter, can a City Fat Cat wake up in his £30m glass and steel penthouse, that desecrates the Art Deco architectural integrity of the Power Station and, North American style, get to his City penthouse office “desk” without going outside. Going to “work”  attired in just summer casuals- slacks and short sleeve shirt?

Answer have public money spent on running an underground tube to your door step so you can take a private lift down to the platform ( via the shopping mall ) and get on a city branch train direct to the City.

Aside from the ludicrous cost of this white elephant toy train for the rich there is the fact that all those commuters living south of Kennington will have to change trains there to get on the City Branch.

Since 1983 the Battersea Power Station Community Group have drawn attention to the neglect of the Battersea Power Station by a succession of owners. They have criticised inappropriate and harmful development proposals and proposed their own alternatives, such as the People’s Plan of 1986. Recently they released their ‘Proof of Evidence’ on the Northern Line Extension in Battersea. A summary of what came out of it:

“We support the principle of connecting the tube to Battersea Power Station, provided it was publicly funded and serves the whole of north Battersea, including Battersea Park, Latchmere and Clapham Junction, reducing unit costs. We also feel that transportation improvements could be achieved more quickly and at lower cost if other transort modes had also been considered. The current proposal represents poor value of money.

We do not consider that having a tube station in east Battersea to be a condition precedent for the succesful redevelopment of the Battersea Power Station site or other sites in the VNEB ”Opportunity Area” would certainly not be considered. The development of these sites has gone ahead on the basis of existing transport infrastructure. The justification that the NLE would support development at higher densities necessary to pay for it is circular and illogical.

We fear that, despite the arguments advanced at this inquiry, the decision to build NLE has already been made. The NLE appears in government budgets and announcements where is it talked about by politicians as if already agreed. Implementation of planning permission 2009/3575 is impossible without the NLE being built. Nevertheless we hope that – in the light of the evidence presented- the outcome of this inquiry will confound the expectations of TfL and Wandsworth Council, and will cause transport provision in east Battersea to be reconsidered.”

Connecting Battersea to the tube network (NLE or some other line) is a wider public good. The developer of the Battersea Power Station site should not be asked to pay for this.

To conclude with, transportation improvements could be made more quickly and at lower costs if other transport modes had been considered. The current proposal represents very poor value for money. Connecting the tube to Battersea Power Station would however be supported, provided it was publicly funded and serves the whole of north Battersea, including Battersea Park, Latchmere and Clapham Junction, reducing unit costs.

For a full critique of the NLE see Proof of Evidence 13-12-13

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Opponents of the Northern Line Extension, and why they’re right

At the start of this year, January 28, there was already opposition against the extension of the Northern Line. Liberal Democrats in Lambeth have suggested a Docklands-style light rail or monorail link between Waterloo, Vauxhall and Battersea as an alternative. Local campaigners also question the transport benefits of adding an extra branch to an already complicated and overcrowded rail route like the Northern line.

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“The only way to relieve the existing crush let alone cope with the massive influx of fresh commuters being generated by the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea new town is by a completely separate system,” say the Lambeth Liberal Democrats in an unsigned comment piece published on the party website.”

”We’ve suggested it before and we’ll say it again, there needs to be a thorough appraisal of a light rail elevated transport system like the Docklands Light Railway.”

”Common sense suggests that this would be massively cheaper than a deep-bored tube line and it could even be a 21st-century monorail system rather than the slightly Trumpton-esque DLR.”

”It could also run all the way to Waterloo – maybe attached to the existing railway viaduct – and later linked to the DLR. After all there’s massive regeneration going on south of the river all the way from Wandsworth to Southwark.”

See the full article.

More recently, the Guardian reported about the concerns of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home:

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is demanding Transport for London (TfL) reconsiders plans for the Northern line extension over fears it will force its animals to be relocated.

The rescue home, in Battersea Park Road, Battersea, is within touching distance of a new station planned to open at Battersea Power Station.

Chiefs at the charity have said the welfare of the animals could be affected during construction, while the extension would mean the rescue home could not expand in the future.

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The Evening Standard reports that the rescue home has joined the Beefeater Gin distillery in nearby Kennington, to write to the Transport Secretary opposing being made to sell large swaths of property. It would have to vacate 70 per cent of its site on a 14-day notice, it says, under legislation proposed by TfL.

In the letter to Patrick McLoughlin, seen by property website CoStar News, home chief executive Claire Horton calls TfL’s sweeping powers “excessive”, adding that the transport body “has insufficient understanding of the complexity and sophistication of the facilities at our building”.

Chivas Brothers, operators from the Beefeater distillery, has also written objecting to TfL’s plans to compulsorily purchase land for a ventilation shaft. The company says dangers posed by the construction would prevent it operating on the site.

Enough reasons to reconsider the Northen Line Extension, so it seems.

Michèle Dix, managing director of planning for TfL, said: “We are working through a Transport and Works Act Order process and are not expecting a decision on the Northern line extension from the Government until summer 2014.

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Public inquiry into proposed Northern Line Extension to Nine Elms and Battersea

Transport for London (TFL) is proposing to extend the Northern line (Charing Cross branch) to Battersea, via a new station at Nine Elms, as part of wider plans to regenerate the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea area.

If you’re interested in this, view the provisional outline programme for public inquiry, which is running the next four weeks.

This Northern line extension (NLE) forms part of wider plans to regenerate the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea area.

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Following public consultations in 2010 and 2011, the Council’s Cabinet approved a recommendation to support this preferred route (January 2012 Cabinet Report). However, in response to community concerns, TfL was asked to do some further design work and analysis, particularly around the locations of the shaft.

TfL has now produced an update leaflet on the consultation and work so far. Further consultation is proposed over the coming months. You can find out more or sign up for regular updates at the TfL Northern line extension page.

The extension of the Northern line is part of wider plans to improve public transport in the area to respond to levels of development expected in Vauxhall and Nine Elms. Additional public transport is needed to support this new development and to benefit existing residents and businesses.

Less pressure on Vauxhall station and relief to the existing Northern line south of Kennington. The extension is a partially privately funded project by the site developers, SP Setia and palm oil conglomerate Sime Darby, with contributions from other sources such as the proposed new US Embassy. Subject to permission from the Secretary of State for Transport to build and operate the extension and the required funding being in place, construction could begin in 2015, and the extension could be open by 2020.Battersea will be the new southern terminus, with a new station at Nine Elms on Wandsworth Road. Both new stations will be in Travelcard Zone 2.

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Vauxhall transformation plan photograph released

The first image of complete plans for the transformation of Vauxhall in south London has been released.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than 20 developments will turn brownfield land along the River Thames at Nine Elms into parks, homes, and shopping areas.

Construction work on the £8bn revamp of nearby Battersea Power Station is due to start in the middle of next year.

A spokeswoman said the power station revamp is just one of the developments in the area.

Programme director Helen Fisher, said the scheme would be centred around One Nine Elms, which she described as the tallest residential tower in western Europe.

New stations

A spokeswoman for the scheme said construction of more than 1,000 homes had already started and the St George Wharf residential tower would be completed in the next 12 to 18 months.

She said work on the new US Embassy was due to begin soon and the entire programme of works was expected to be completed in the next five to 10 years.

A public consultation into plans by Transport for London (TfL) to build new underground stations at Nine Elms and Battersea is currently under way.

The Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership was set up in 2010 to oversee the development.

The partnership includes developers and landowners in the area, the Mayor of London, TfL and the Greater London Authority, and is chaired by the leaders of Wandsworth and Lambeth councils.

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Northern Line extension plans put to public consultation

Property to rent in Battersea could become even more attractive if Transport for London’s plans to extend the Northern Line are given the green light.

The city’s public transport body has launched the third and final public consultation on the project, which would see the London Underground network extended from Kennington to Battersea.

It is seeking views from local residents before it finalises its application for a Transport and Works Act Order in the spring of next year.

Under the plans, two new Tube stops would be created to benefit even more of London’s citizens. One would be situated at Nine Elms and the other at Battersea Power Station.

Although those living in Battersea have access to overground railway networks taking them into Waterloo and Victoria, there are currently no Tube lines serving the area.

The extension of the Northern Line into Battersea could therefore have a very positive impact on the local lettings market.

According to Transport for London, journey times into the City and the West End from this part of London would be cut to around 15 minutes as a result of the new link.

Managing director of planning Michele Dix said: “We are really keen to hear what local residents and business have to say about our proposed plans for the Northern Line extension before they are finalised.

“This new transport link could help kick-start regeneration of the area by supporting the creation of thousands of new jobs and homes.”

A number of public exhibitions are being held at venues across Wandsworth and Lambeth – the two boroughs to be affected by the plans – in the coming weeks, including one at the Gallery on the Corner on Battersea Park Road on November 29th.

The Northern Line carries around 660,000 passengers every weekday and serves 50 stations between Morden and Edgware, Mill Hill East or High Barnet.

It has two Central London branches – one via Bank and one via Charing Cross.

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Commuters warned of 30-minute wait for a train during Olympics

Tube and rail travellers will have to wait at least half an hour to board trains at “hotspot” stations during peak hours at the Olympic, transport chiefs admitted earlier this week.

Passengers will be held in lengthy queues or will have to walk to alternative stations, according to the first detailed forecasts of public transport and road demand during the Games.

The busiest station will be London Bridge, with Transport for London (TfL) forecasting delays of at least half an hour during the two-hour evening peak every day during the Games. Other “hotspots” include Bank, Canary Wharf, Canada Water and Bond Street.

                                                        Photo by: Qsimple

Volunteers will be situated at hotspot stations issuing travel advice and walking maps. The second stage of TfL’s public information campaign will start early next year and target commuters rather than business. It will profile a further 30 Tube stations and provide travel advice for weekend journeys.

Transport bosses admit that disruption will be much worse if they cannot achieve a 20 per cent reduction in passenger journeys during the Games by persuading commuters to change their travel patterns.

Major challenges are also expected on Monday August 13th, the day after the closing ceremony, with an exodus of teams and their entourages to airports on what will be the busiest day in Heathrow’s history.

In addition to this, motorists have officially been urged not to drive to or through “hotspots”, such as sports venues or cultural festivals and not to take the car during rush hours. People have also been recommended to work from home during the Olympics.

What they don’t seem to take into consideration is the fact that most people are not in a situation where they can work from home for a few weeks. They’re also failing to recognise that many people live miles and miles away from their workplace and walking in every morning would take hours. Then again, it would probably be quicker than getting on the tube…

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Battersea Power Station: Out of the frying pan into the fire

The horror story continues…

Nightmare on Nine Elm Street

The abysmal Vinoly plans for Battersea Power Station that we had all hoped were finally dead and buried with the collapse of previous owners REO has come back to haunt all who care about the beautiful building and the quality of life for all those living in its shadow and the surrounding area.

Just when you thought it was safe Architect Viñoly has been hired as “creative brain” behind developer Mike Hussey’s plan for a new stadium for Chelsea football club. AAAHHHHHHGGGGG……

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