Today (Friday 16th March) St William, a joint venture between National Grid and the Berkeley Group, held a topping-out ceremony at Prince of Wales Drive, to celebrate the first structural completion for both the Battersea scheme and for the St William portfolio. The development will ultimately deliver 955 new homes, including 229 housing association homes for low cost rent and shared ownership, and wider community benefits.
Tony Pidgley CBE, Chairman of Berkeley Group, was joined by the Leader of Wandsworth Council Councillor Ravi Govindia, Managing Director of St William Alison Dowsett, Chairman for St William Sean Ellis, Mike Westcott, Group HR and Commercial Property Director for National, Phil Edwards Head of Real Estate for National Grid and Marcus Arrogah and Bernard Fasehun - two apprentices of the Street Elite programme both from Wandsworth - to mark the occasion for Berkeley's newest brand.
As the first St William project to launch in 2016, the event marks a milestone for the developer, which is transforming industrial sites of a complex nature across London into meaningful locations to live by reopening disused land and building communities. St William achieves this company goal by delivering a landscape-led approach at the outset in the design process, which considers first life, then spaces, then buildings.
At Prince of Wales Drive, the company will transform a five-acre, former gasworks site that has been closed to the public for decades, to reconnect this part of Battersea to the community. Half of the development enjoys an open landscape designed by renowned urban planners Gillespies, with 11 distinct buildings set among considered, generous and high-quality open space, including public gardens.
Building a new community
In addition to the delivery of 955 new homes, Prince of Wales Drive will provide a range additional benefits for the existing community. The development will bring £34.4m of Community Infrastructure Levy contributions to the local area, a Gym Group gym, 65,000 sq. ft. of office space, a new nursery for 0-5 year olds, a café and additional food and retail units, likely to be occupied by a small grocery.
Tony Pidgley CBE, Chairman of the Berkeley Group, commented:
"New homes are vital, but we must keep striving for quality. By putting people first in our thought process, we are making sure these new places are social, sustainable, and safe. Today's ceremony not only marks a milestone for Prince of Wales Drive but also highlights the continued achievements made by St William to serve local communities. From our commitment to creating jobs for local people and developing the careers of our apprentices from the Street Elite initiative, to the delivery of much needed housing, we aim to give back to the community in this part of Battersea."
New jobs and skills for local people
St William is committed to creating construction and permanent jobs for local people as part of each new community it creates. Prince of Wales Drive has delivered over 370 jobs during construction, and on completion will create 85 permanent jobs. Marcus Arrogah and Bernard Fasehun, two apprentices which attended the topping-out ceremony, found work following graduation of the Street Elite programme.
Street Elite is a Berkeley Group supported initiative that uses sport and mentoring to motivate young people who often live on the edge of gangs and crime, helping them to gain confidence and new skills. Marcus and Bernard each completed an intensive 12-week sports-based training program, which led to a two-week work placement with St William, and consequently a permanent job within the company.
Marcus Arrogah, Trainee Manager, commented:
"Street Elite did a lot for me. It gave me a sense of direction and confidence. St William took me on when the course finished; now I'm building homes in my own borough."
The development will reconnect what was once industrial land back into the landscape and to its history. The industrial heritage also influences the outdoor spaces at Prince of Wales Drive, with sections of the original gasholder structure used to create a distinctive entranceway into the development. The structure will be installed later this year.
Cllr Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said:
"This is another exciting redevelopment of a formerly industrial site in Nine Elms where leading housing association Clarion is set to provide more than 200 homes for low cost rent and for shared ownership - and at no cost to taxpayers. Four thousand housing association and council homes are on their way in this previously disused area, in what is becoming a new and exciting part of Battersea to live in and to visit."
First residents will move in from 2019. The development will complete by 2025.