Saturday, October 23, 2021

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    Battersea offers rebirth lessons

    NSROM outside, The tower rises like a spire. The ceiling is high inside. In the 1930s, one wing was decorated with Italian marble. However, this former power plant has been abandoned since 1983, surrounded by post-industrial wastelands. Now the workers are flocking around it. Further development can be seen from the rooftop. Two new train stations will open on September 20th.

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    As Prime Minister Boris Johnson advertised, it all sounds like a “level up”. But this is the region of Battersea, south of the London River, farther away from the prosperity of the South, rather than the northern “red wall” where voters abandoned Labor to lead Johnson to victory in 2019. It influenced his still vague promise to spread. The extension of the Nine Elms and Northern Lines, called the New District, is Johnson’s most concrete legacy from his mission as Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016. It will eventually provide 20,000 new homes in the capital.

    The criticism was fierce. Most of the homes are luxury homes and many are purchased by absent foreigners. Some consist of blocks of crowded and ugly apartments. Still, London desperately needs more housing, and many efforts to date to provide it in large quantities have failed. The success of this scheme provides lessons for revitalization inside and outside the capital, including the importance of infrastructure, delegated regulatory and financial strength, and support from the central government.

    Battersea, like many parts of southern London, has long needed better transportation links. Of the £ 1.1 billion spent on the extension of the subway, about £ 270 million ($ 370 million) comes from taxing home developers. An “enterprise zone” has been declared, planning and financial rules have been relaxed, allowing local governments to borrow the rest to counter the rise in business rates after residents move in. Government guarantees helped unlock the loan. A designated building, the redeveloped power plant will serve as a centerpiece, providing 1.25 square feet of office space.

    According to a survey by engineering firm Aecom released in June, such projects are even more necessary and possible in the capital. We explored the potential of 400,000 new homes on the Brownfield site and emphasized the importance of transportation links. Battersea shows how to pair the two. For example, the Bakaroo Line mooring extension is also intended to serve areas rich in brownfield sites.

    The government has hinted at some projects elsewhere that combine some of the same elements. These include the new “Freeport” in poor areas, where payroll taxes are low to attract employment, and Treasury North, a civil servant outpost in the northeastern town of Darlington. It remains to be seen if they can succeed without boosting the demand provided by London’s expensive housing market. Still, the red wall may benefit from the lessons learned in the city where the prime minister began his political career. ■■

    This article was published in the UK section of the print version under the heading “Leveling up, and up”.

    Battersea offers rebirth lessons

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