Friday, 28 March 2014

Who would live in a house like this?

A view of a planned garden

The banks of the Thames look likely soon to emerge as only occasionally broken terraces of luxury flats, complementing an array of developments across the capital aimed, almost exclusively, at the ultra-rich. Invariably, flats are sold off plan to foreign owners before anyone in London gets a chance for a view – if you can bear it, below is a video from a sales package for a block in East London aimed at prospective buyers in Hong Kong:

But the development in Battersea Power Station is supposed to be different. Back in February, the developers - Battersea Power Station Development Company - announced 254 apartments, from studios to £30million penthouses, would be marketed in the UK only.

At the time the chief executive of the company, Rob Tincknell, said:

'There has been a lot of comment recently about London's housing problems, and we believe the only way to try and solve this is to build great homes and create a community that people actually want to live in.'

Well, today the company offers a glimpse into these new homes, which go on sale on May 1, and while they are being marketed in the UK, Battersea looks set to be a pretty exclusive community.

Studio flats will start from £800,000, one bed apartments from £1m with two-bed apartments starting at £1.5m. For anyone wanting anything more substantial - families for example - for a three-bed house you would have to start with £2.7m spare and a four bedroom house will cost upwards of £4m. For the luxury apartments, the price is, well, if you have to ask you can't afford it.

The overall Rafael Vinoly masterplan apparently includes more than 500 affordable housing units, evidently these are not them. In fact they are not due until phase 5; this is phase 2.

There is little doubt that once completed these will be pretty special places to live and the developers boast they will be significantly larger than other comparable projects. Many will have spectacular views overlooking the Thames 'or back on to the famous Boiler House facade'. And all will have access to the rooftop, 1.5acre, garden.

A living room
To reach the entrance lobbies of two blocks away from Giles Gilbert Scott's building - Switch House East and West - residents will have to cross 'a static water pool that encircles the entire Power Station', a feature formerly known as a moat.

The developers dream of creating a 'vibrant community' apparently and at least they are going to efforts to attract UK buyers, but it looks destined to being just one of many luxury developments dotted across London, albeit distinguished by a 1930s architectural marvel. After all, who buys a studio flat for £800,000? Most likely by someone who doesn't intend on living there. Hardly a recipe for a vibrant community.

Let's hope I'll be proved wrong.

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