Buying a new home: London’s new waterfront destination to get 1,800 homes in bid to take on neighbouring Chelsea
Over the past 20 years a “golden mile” of modern apartments has been filling in the curve in the Thames between Wandsworth and Battersea Bridges.
The last pieces in the jigsaw are at Sands End.
Housebuilders have been steadily investing billions of pounds in the regeneration of this old gasworks district, turning it from industrial backwater to fully fledged modern London village.
Now 1,800 new homes are for sale in the biggest launch of the autumn. For years now families and professionals priced out of Parsons Green and Fulham have been rippling across to period houses just inland at this little-known address.
This new chunky bit of luxury development will flag up the area and turn a few heads as Sands End gets all dressed up for business, determined to take on Chelsea by calling its new central residential scheme King’s Road Park.
New homes start at £655,000 (berkeleygroup.co.uk) and for that, buyers at King’s Road Park will get access to all the trappings of a high-end scheme, including a private residents garden, bar and dining room, a health spa and pool, two cinemas and a games room.
The former Fulham Gas Works site has been stripped of its industrial infrastructure, with the exception of one Grade II*-listed gasholder, which is to be renovated as the centrepiece of a six-acre park on the 16-acre site. There will also be 100,000sq ft of restaurants, bars and offices.
On the new-homes map: cafés, restaurants and boutiques in Wandsworth Bridge Road serve young buyers who like the local period terraces and conversions, along with residents in the modern schemes (Matt Writtle)
Work started on the site in spring and the project isn’t set to complete until 2036. About a third of the homes are classified as “affordable”, while rental homes will also be aimed at people who otherwise could never afford the area.
“Sands End has been very popular this year perhaps because people are curious about all the regeneration going on,” says Faith Cook, sales director at Winkworth. “They will definitely boost the area. At the moment people go to the King’s Road or wander down to Wandsworth Bridge Road if they want anything. The new arrivals will give people a lot more choice.”
Thames-side Sands End was reborn in the late Eighties with the Chelsea Harbour residential development and Design Centre, with its 368 flats, marina, and a sports club patronised by Diana, Princess of Wales, setting a new standard for gated developments in the capital.
After a long, recessionary pause housebuilder St George launched Imperial Wharf in 2000, with 1,400 new homes on another former British Gas site abutting Chelsea Harbour, achieving record prices for the area. By 2009 it was, according to a survey by Halifax, the 17th most expensive address in Britain and in the same year an eponymous Zone 2 train station was opened, giving Sands End a public transport link to the outside world.
The problem with Imperial Wharf was that its shiny new homes were marketed heavily overseas, turning it into a bit of a ghost town. As Winkworth’s Faith Cook says: “I still think it has a slightly eerie feel when I go there, like nobody lives there.”
What followed was not particularly inspiring either. After the financial crisis of 2007-2008, investment began pouring into Sands End. Well over 1,000 modern flats were built on old industrial sites — notably just over 900 homes at Chelsea Creek and 460 at Fulham Riverside. But the architecture was a bit bland with no nearby amenities, and no heart.
From £655,000: flats at King’s Road Park in Sands End, by St William, have luxury trappings including a health spa and pool (berkeleygroup.co.uk)
Happily, the new arrivals are setting a new benchmark in design, including Chelsea Waterfront, a stunning scheme masterplanned by Sir Terry Farrell for developer Hutchison Whampoa. Shops and restaurants, a high street, landscaped squares and luxury facilities in the renovated original Lots Road Power Station are included on the eight-acre site, with 700 homes in 10 buildings. The power station is smaller than big brother Battersea across the river but Lots Road is also a real landmark and the apartments offer fabulous views. This is a project with the potential to give Sands End the heart it needs.
This scheme is well under way. The first residents moved in last year, Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has spent £30 million on a 6,000sq ft penthouse, and the power station building will reopen in 2023.
Prices start at £1.1 million for a one-bedroom flat, and £1.4 million for a two-bedroom flat. Visit chelseawaterfront.com and towerwestlondon.com for more.
Buyers find relative value
New businesses are popping up along the riverfront. There is now a proper supermarket, a café or two and a couple of worthwhile local pubs, notably The Sands End. Estate agents say the profile of buyers at Sands End is changing.
“At first the buyers came from abroad,” says Glynn Gibb, a partner at Chestertons. “You got buyers from China and the Middle East who were coming in and renting the new homes out, or in some cases just leaving them empty. Now I think it is swapping over. The last two buyers we had were from the UK.”
Value is, of course, a relative term but Sands End is the cheap end of SW6 and prices have taken a hit in recent years, partly due to Brexit. “In 2014 you would pay £1,100 to £1,200 a square foot around Sands End,” says Gibb. “Now you can buy a second-hand flat for less than £1,000 per square foot.”
Sands End is not a completely new area. Young families have been attracted to three-bedroom terrace houses just inland of the big new developments, which now cost around £1.1 million to £1.2 million, and young buyers like the period conversions around Wandsworth Bridge Road.
“It is now developing into something quite hip,” says Gibb.
One missing link in Sands End’s story is the Diamond Jubilee Footbridge, a proposed river crossing linking the area to Battersea and bringing Clapham Junction station, Battersea Park and all the shops and restaurants of the area within walking distance.
Prices from £1.1 million: flats at Chelsea Waterfront, Sir Terry Farrell’s design for the former Lots Road Power Station
This relatively modest pedestrian bridge was the idea of architect and local resident Chris Medland, director of One-world Design. He came up with the concept of a new river crossing alongside the Cremorne Railway Bridge nearly 10 years ago and, with the encouragement of Wandsworth council, applied for and won planning permission in 2013.
Wandsworth has been an enthusiastic supporter of the project, raising about half of the £36 million cost through contributions from developers, and requiring Barratt London to install pilings on the south side of the river.
However, the rest of the money has proved difficult to raise. Medland hopes Transport for London will invest, while Hammersmith & Fulham council could, of course, follow Wandsworth’s example, and he is also actively seeking commercial sponsors.
“These things do take a long time, as I have learned over the last eight years,” he says. “But I remain optimistic that it will happen.”