New masterplan unveiled for Battersea Power Station

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Real Estate Opportunities has revealed its final masterplan proposal for Battersea Power Station and will submit an outline planning application next month for a scheme it likens to Berlin’s Potzdamer Platz.

The AIM-listed property company, which is 67% owned by Irish developer Treasury Holdings, has drawn up a scheme which will no longer have an eco dome or chimney.

It will instead focus on creating a more permeable, lower scheme that does not obstruct views from Westminster and has multiple entry points and pedestrian access routes.

The new proposal will see only 42.5% of the 15.5ha site developed. The power station’s redevelopment to create office, conference, retail and residential space will account for 35% of the 42.5% and will be a ‘viable project in its own right’.

The remaining buildings, including a 600,000 sq ft office building, will be designed in a John Nash-style curved terraced formation that form a ‘halo’ around the power station.

Overall the scheme will comprise 3,700 homes, 1.5m sq ft of office space, 500,000 sq ft of retail space, and a hotel, restaurants, leisure space and community facilities. The plans no longer include a 2,000 seat amphitheatre.

Rob Tincknell, Treasury Holdings UK managing director, said: ‘It has taken 18 months of consultation and talking to people but we think we have cracked it.’

He said that there was still a ‘tremendous amount of work to be done’ not least of which is financing the scheme which it estimates will cost £4bn to develop. This figure excludes the £460m cost of developing the new station and northern line extension from Kennington to Battersea Power Station which requires a further.

‘It needs to generate a lot of revenue to make it work (...) and it has to be of an appropriate density. It will cost £4bn to develop so it is the same situation as before but there has obviously been a rather significant change ot the market since then,’ said Tincknell. ‘We have responded to that in a number of ways. The eco dome and chimney were very expensive structures to create and in some ways we were welcoming of the policy and legislation protecting Westminster views as it is saved the scheme quite a lot of money.

‘We have maximised the more profitable uses on the site. It is much more simple now and much more phaseable. Before we had to build some quite big chunks all in one go but now it’s more efficient and more affordable.’

Tincknell said it was not actively looking for bank finance now ‘which is a good thing for us’ and it will not need to do so until the beginning of 2011. He said it intended to look for a major equity partner to help fund the scheme and said it had a significant amount of interest from a range of parties including sovereign wealth funds.

He said: ‘If you create a viable project you will get development finance. We are also looking for a long-term equity partner at some point in the future and we have a lot of interest and we are just talking to people and giving them introductions [to the scheme] and keeping them interested.’

He said the site, which was last valued on 31 December 2008 at £440m down from £540m, does not hold a lot of debt at the site purchase was financed with only around £150m of debt. The site is due to be revalued again this month.

Funding the station, which will also require parliamentary approval, will be the most difficult element and Tincknell said it is looking at a range of options but one more advanced option is a mix of a Nine Elms Opportunity Area development levy and an incremental finance and revenue share from the operation of the extension itself in conjunction with Transport for London.

Tincknell said the new transport node is essential to the area, including proposed developments which are nearer to Vauxhall Station than the power station.

‘Vauxhall is at capacity so it is as simple as that,’ said Tincknell. ‘Nothing can be done to increase capacity on the Victoria Line, whereas the Northern line split can create an additional 30% capacity.

‘It comes down to do people want Nine Elms to be a parochial low-density residential enclave or a whole new district for London like Potzdamer Platz created a whole new district for Berlin. That is the opportunity here.’

BATTERSEA POWER STATION TIMELINE

  • July 2009 – planning application submitted
  • Mid to end 2010 – application before Wandsworth planning committee
  • June 2011 – Dec 2013 – Phase 1/Power Station development begins
  • Mid 2014 – Power station opens
  • Mid 2014 – 2020 – remainder of development carried out
  • 2012 – 2015 - Northern Line extension work completed.

The latest version of the masterplan follows collaboration with Wandsworth Council, mayor of London Boris Johnson, the Greater London Authority, English Heritage, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), Transport for London and the local community.

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