May 1 - Properties in the second phase of a 3,500-home development in London's iconic Battersea Power Station go on sale. The project has been funded by Malaysian investors and as Ivor Bennett reports it's likely to attract yet more foreign buyers to London.
It's big enough to house St Paul's cathedral Even the gherkin could fit if it was on its side. The largest brick building in Europe, Battersea power station has dominated the London skyline since 1933. Now decommissioned, the size has made it a prime piece of real estate. SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "The site is being developed into 3500 properties, that'll be sold off in batches over the next 15 years. Demand is so high that when the first batch went on sale last January, they sold out within just four days." A concert by Elton John helped launch the sale of the second batch. Over 250 luxury homes mostly fashioned from the Grade-II listed bulk of the building. But at 800,000 pounds for a studio, and four million for a 4-bed, it's not exactly the community project that was promised. Over half of the properties sold so far have gone to overseas buyers. CEO Rob Tincknell insists the second phase will be different. SOUNDBITE (English) ROB TINCKNELL, CEO, BATTERSEA POWER STATION, SAYING: "Our ambition with the power station is to build a really strong community and we're not going to do that if it's full of foreign buyers with the lights off and nobody living here. So we're very keen to find owner occupiers." But overseas buyers are a growing trend in the UK. The site itself is owned by a Malaysian consortium. And 70 percent of new builds sold in London last year went to buyers abroad. The surge of overseas interest helped fuel a 10 percent rise in house prices in 2013, A rate that worries IG's Brenda Kelly. SOUNDBITE (English) BRENDA KELLY, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, IG MARKETS, SAYING: "I think that things have got exceptionally out of hand, particularly here in the south-east. I agree that perhaps the economy is going rather well but we are still 0.6 percent below the pre-crisis levels. And given that interest rates are exceptionally low and slated to stay that low for a long period of time." But it seems it's not a concern shared by Battersea's Malaysian owners. The development reportedly costing 8 billion pounds.