Investment in transport infrastructure is key to increasing housing supply, says developer
Since its closure in 1983 a succession of different proposals for how to redevelop Battersea Power Station have been and gone, ranging from theme parks and eco domes to a football stadium. The obstacle that remained common to all was the lack of transport connections at Battersea and Nine Elms. Rob Tincknell, Chief Executive Officer at Battersea Power Station Development Company, argues that the key to increasing the housing supply in London is investment in new transport infrastructure, he tells the CBI.
Despite there being bus and overland rail routes the absence of a tube portal between Vauxhall and Clapham Junction blighted redevelopment prospects for this vast 200 acre tract of brownfield site on the South Bank of the River Thames.
As a consequence the turning point in the history of this site came in the form of the Northern Line Extension – an extension from Kennington which at a stroke puts people living or working at Battersea and Nine Elms within 15 minutes of the City and the West End, without having to change lines.
The effect of this was to catalyse the development potential of Nine Elms. By creating two new tube stops; one at Battersea Power Station and one adjacent to the new US Embassy, the number of new homes that could be created in that space was effectively doubled, simply because the transport infrastructure would be equipped to sustain such a population increase.
But more than just the virtue of facilitating much-needed new housing, the Northern Line Extension is significant because of the funding mechanism on which it relies. By creating this vital new transport route Nine Elms can become home to shops, offices and the recreational uses which are not only essential to making an animated neighbourhood with a real sense of community, but which will also generate the business rate revenues to pay for it.
In that way new infrastructure becomes self-funding with the business premises which are facilitated by the new tube line in turn generating the business rates to fund it. The Northern Line Extension is one of the largest and most effective uses of Tax Increment Financing yet seen, and in my view points the way to unlocking future regeneration and redevelopment sites elsewhere around London, and around the country.
By creating a genuine mix of uses between residential and commercial, the sorely-needed development which London needs not only carries the mechanism to pay for its own new infrastructure, just as important it ensures land-owners, local authorities and developers really commit to building neighbourhoods and communities where people feel a sense of place and local identity.
That is an ambition we are seeking to realise with Battersea Power Station, and one which we hope will make the difference between building houses on a development and instead creating homes in a neighbourhood.
For further information about Battersea Power Station visit the webpage at https://batterseapowerstation.co.uk/
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