A Property Investment Guide by a Singaporean living in London
  • facebook

 

I visited the VNEB (Vauxhall, Nine Elms and the Battersea) regeneration area for the first time last week, to see firsthand for myself the buzz surrounding what has been hailed as the biggest ever regeneration project in the UK. Despite the many years it would take for transport links and amenities to be put in place, property prices here were already going for a hefty price tag of more than £1,000 psf. Buyers, majority of who were overseas investors, were banking on prices in VNEB going up, despite the potential oversupply of new units coming on the market for rent in a few years time, with as many as 16,000 total units planned for the 480 acre area.  Is the optimism on the part of investors justified? I take a closer look at some of the biggest projects planned in VNEB to find out.

Battersea Power Station

The heart of the Nine Elms regeneration area is the iconic Battersea Power Station, a coal-fired plant with four towering chimneys that stopped functioning the 1980s. In 2012, investors from the Malaysian consortium comprising Sime Darby Berhad, S P Setia Berhad and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) acquired Battersea Power Station for £400 million, with plans for 3,500 apartments, penthouses and townhouses, as well as commercial use space including offices, shops, art galleries, a theater and a health spa. Most notable was how within seven days of Phrase 1 going on the market, three-quarters of its 800 homes were reserved. At launch, prices started at $524,000 for a small studio and around $9.3 million for a penthouse of 4,000 square feet. A 2-BR unit at Battersea Power Station is currently listed on Rightmove for £1.15 million, reflecting a PSF of £1,315. Interestingly enough, none of the residential units will be in the Power Station itself, but rather in blocks surrounding it.

Embassy Gardens

It took me a 10-min walk from the Vauxhall Tube station to reach the Embassy Gardens show flat by Ballymore. In 2008, the US embassy announced they would be leaving their existing location in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, over to Nine Elms, where the $960 million fortress-like embassy designed by Philadelphia architecture firm Kieran Timberlake will be due to open in 2017. While this is not fully confirmed, the Chinese and Dutch embassies have also been in discussions about moving to the Nine Elms area as well. The Nine Elms extension to the Northern Line will be located at the Embassy Gardens site and is scheduled to open by 2020. When I spoke to a sales consultant at the showflat, I was told that phrase 1 was already 100% sold out, and phrase 2 would be scheduled to be released later this year. I did a quick search on Rightmove and there were around five 1-BR flats currently listed for sale at Embassy Gardens, priced at around £625,000 or a PSF of  £1,021.

Riverlights

Riverlights, developed by St James of Berkeley Homes and designed by Richard Rogers, will be the first Nine Elms project to be completed and ready for occupancy.

The development is directly across from the New Covent Garden Market, currently open every Sunday for the sale of flowers, fruit and other produce. Riverlights was first launched in Asia and the Middle East last year, and units are currently still available for sale from the developer. Riverlights highlights one key difference between Nine Elms and other London redevelopment zones such as the more affordable Stratford Olympic area or Royal Docks: projects here are clearly targeted at wealthy foreigners and young professionals, rather than locals already in London. This could likely mean that residents in the area may well end up renters rather than owners of their homes, who pick up and leave the area in a few years without sinking roots.

The Tower

The Tower at St George Wharf, at 52 floors high, will contain 223 flats when completed. At a height of 180 metres above ground level, it is taller than the London Eye, and will subsequently provide a panoramic view of London second to none. Residents will have access to concierge services provided by of Harrods and an infinity pool occupying the entire ground floor. When the  penthouse sold for £50m, it broke national records by being the most expensive property outside the ‘ultra-prime’ districts of Chelsea, Kensington, Belgravia and Knightsbridge. A 3-BR flat on the 7th floor is currently listed at Rightmove for sale for £2,850,000, reflecting a PSF of £2,034. With 90% of tenants in the London rental market in their twenties and thirties, earning an average salary of £20-30,000 a year, renting a flat even in a low floor of The Tower is beyond the range of the average worker. It is estimated that a one-bed property costs around £400 a week, and two-beds are in excess of £500. Renting a three bed property costs around £660 or more, which brings into question the level of rental demand buy-to-let investors will face when all 223 units come onto the market when the development is completed.

Website Apps