The Forces Shaping London's Largest Redevelopment in 350 Years

At 195 hectares (480 acres), the Nine Elms redevelopment project being planned for the south bank of the Thames River will be "the most important regeneration story in London and in the UK over the next 20 years."
February 19, 2013, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The Economist looks at the forces shaping, and being shaped by, the massive Nine Elms redevelopment project in central London. The city's green belt means the development will be three times more dense than the city as a whole; foreign money assures the project will be built, and the housing will sell; and a change in the local-government financing rules has earned the project the backing of local authorities.

"The development will not just transform central London. It will also illustrate some of the flaws in the way the city is run," says The Economist.

"Over time, the city’s organic growth has given it an informal charm. But when a lot of new buildings are going up in one place at once, there is something to be said for a more formal plan. That can happen more easily where there is a single landowner, as at Canary Wharf, than where ownership is fragmented, as at Nine Elms."

"Helen Fisher, Nine Elms’s programme director, describes the planning framework as 'tight-loose'. It is, she says, very prescriptive about some things, such as height and sight-lines to the river, while enabling a 'creative mix' of designs."

"Nine Elms will probably work better financially than aesthetically. A part of town that has not entirely shed its industrial heritage (the sewage works and the waste dump will remain, snuggled up beside the swanky new flats) is always a risky investment, but Nine Elms’s location is in its favour, as is the continued growth in emerging markets that is driving the London property market."

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Published on Saturday, February 16, 2013 in The Economist
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