Buyers choose high-end homes in bustling Battersea. After years of difficulty, the redeveloped Battersea Power Station in south London has left its ‘soulless’ past behind.
After nearly a decade spent living next door to the construction site surrounding the regeneration of Battersea Power Station in south-west London, Gabrielle and her family bought a home there. In December, they moved into a three-bedroom duplex in Switch House West, which used to house the station’s battery and switchgear.
“They’ve managed to create a space that really works for all ages,” says Gabrielle, an entrepreneur with two children, who declined to give her last name. “And it’s getting busier — from 6am there are people around dog-walking, going to the gym or to catch the Uber Boat to school or work.”
The redevelopment of the power station, which had been more or less abandoned for 40 years, has been beset with financing problems, changes of ownership and years of delay. It has also been derided in the press in recent years, with critics describing the area — and the neighbouring Nine Elms project — as “soulless”, “dire” and an “ugly ghost town”.
It may have felt deserted at one time, but not any more. The streets and cafés are bustling. And now that buyers have been able to visit and view finished properties, they have been more inclined to splash out on the Power Station development’s high-end flats. In 2021, the developer says it sold £400mn worth of properties — more than any other year since selling started in 2013 — though it won’t reveal how many units. It will say that 1,563 properties have been sold so far, nearly all of them flats.
Apartments start at £865,000 for a new 500 sq ft studio apartment — or £995,000 for one within the curvy Frank Gehry-designed Prospect Place — and go up to £9.1mn for a 2,840 sq ft three-bedroom Sky Villa on the roof between the chimneys. In March, Caspar Harvard-Walls of Black Brick, a buying agent, brokered a sale on a three-bedroom duplex river-facing apartment within the power station listed at £5.55mn.
“The buyer was looking for a house in Knightsbridge or Chelsea for £5mn but thought the turbine hall property with its floor-to-ceiling Crittall windows was too impressive,” he says.
Penny Holley, 71, downsized from Oxfordshire to a two-bedroom flat in Switch House East in December. She says she uses the development’s app to stay in touch about groups and social events — “One time Sting [the singer] turned up for choir practice,” she says. “Sometimes I am on my own in the residents’ cinema room but when the shops open in September the site will really come alive.”
Outside the development, the market for flats across Battersea’s SW11 postcode has been in decline — the number of second-hand apartment purchases in the first three months of this year was 17 per cent lower than the 2015-19 average, according to LonRes, which tracks the London market. By contrast, the number of house sales was up 40 per cent.
Holley’s son and his children live in a house in the long-established residential area of south Battersea between Wandsworth and Clapham Commons. Here, Victorian terraced houses typically sell for between £1.6mn and £1.8mn — commanding a premium because of the good schools and proximity to the shops and restaurants of Northcote Road, the area’s main artery.
For about 5 to 10 per cent less, you can find a similar house in the area north of Clapham Common, says Mayow Short of Savills Battersea. “Lots more space-seeking or newly dog-owning buyers came from north of the river to Battersea during the pandemic than before,” he says. With the average flat in prime central London selling for £2.1mn in 2022, according to LonRes, but the average house in Battersea costing £1.7mn, the appeal is clear.
Paul Hallett has been firmly entrenched in Battersea for some time. The GP bought a five-bedroom house with a small garden just north of Clapham Common in January 2020 with his wife Poppy in preparation for their first baby, due in July.
“I have owned a two-bed flat with my brother in the area since 2010 and didn’t want to move far,” he says. “I work in Putney but think the high street [there] is dreadful and the houses more expensive.”
Another popular pocket is The Sisters, a conservation area near the river where the streets are named after the landowner’s daughters: Edna, Orbel, Ursula and Octavia. Victorian semi-detached and terraced houses here start from about £1.3mn; extended ones can sell for £1.8mn.
Entry level for a small resale flat in one of the many mansion blocks around Battersea Park is about £550,000. “The best [larger] ones — in York Mansions and Overstrand Mansions — have been achieving record prices this year, but others are selling less well,” says Short.
A one-bedroom apartment in Primrose Mansions, a red-brick block on Prince of Wales Drive, which last sold for £575,000 in 2015, is now listed at £600,000, after two price reductions. A two-bedroom flat in York Mansions sold in March 2021 for £840,000, after selling in 2016 for £950,000.
Last December, after renting in one of the Victorian mansion blocks next to Battersea Park, Floridian LeAnn Ferry and her husband Gustavo bought a quarter share of a two-bedroom flat in Windsor Apartments, a new building on Prince of Wales Drive with a shared-ownership scheme for households earning less than £90,000 a year. The total cost of their apartment — their first home — is £820,000.
“I feel very lucky there’s a way for us to be able to afford to buy in the area we like so much,” says the florist, who works in Chelsea. “We wanted a new-build property and have seen this area grow and become more vibrant.”
Homes in this part of Battersea appeal to empty-nesters who like the short walk to Chelsea, says Andrew Fisher of Knight Frank. “It’s a very different market to Nine Elms,” he says, “Nine Elms — where around 70 per cent of buyers before the pandemic were from overseas — has not had the same interest from domestic buyers [as Battersea].”