LONDON (REUTERS) - Residential property in the second phase of the Battersea power station project in London will be offered for sale in the British capital before being marketed to overseas buyers, the scheme's Malaysian-backed developer said.
The decision comes in response to increasing pressure on builders to give Londoners priority for new homes in an effort to combat a housing shortage exacerbated by the droves of overseas buyers who have snapped up residential property in the city over recent years.
The power station, famous for its imposing quartet of art deco chimneys, stood derelict on the south bank of the River Thames for about three decades until the 39-acre site was bought in July 2012 by a Malaysian consortium.
As part of the project's second phase, 254 apartments will be on offer in an exhibition that will be held only in London from May 1. They will range from studio flats to five-bedroom penthouses.
The practice of selling to overseas buyers before completion has been favoured by housebuilders as a way to help to finance developments and reduce the risk of being left with unsold flats.
Late last year, however, 11 housebuilders signed a commitment to sell homes in new developments in Britain before or at the same time as trying to sell them outside the country.
"There has been a lot of comment recently about London's housing problems," said Rob Tincknell, chief executive of Battersea Power Station Development Company.
"We are proud to be launching these new homes in London only, and this decision is part of a wider strategy to create a product well-suited for owner occupiers and people who will help us create a real and lasting community here in Battersea." The developer started selling homes at the power station site last year in a first phase of 835 flats, 55 percent of which were sold abroad in countries such as Malaysia, Russia and China. The site will contain 3,500 homes when it completes in 15 years.
Foreign investors have bought about 70 per cent of new-build homes across central London, according to Savills, helping to fuel a 10 per cent rise in prices last year and stoking resentment among locals trying to get a foot on the property ladder.
The Malaysian consortium, which includes developer SP Setia , Sime Darby and a subsidiary controlled by the Employees Provident Fund pension fund, bought the power station for 400 million pounds (S$841 million), beating rival bidders from as far afield as Brazil, China and Kazakhstan.