Power to the people of SW6

The area may not be as upmarket as neighbouring Chelsea, but it Fulham has undergone a rapid transformation with more to come. Are the Victorian-terrace set ready for factory conversions?
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The Independent Online

Earth, air, fire and water and their modern descendants - notably oil, gas, sewage and electricity - are the building blocks of modern urban regeneration. The obscure Sands Ends section of Fulham is a case in point. On an L-shaped, 32-acre former gasworks, St George is building Imperial Wharf with 1,665 apartments, "approximately 50 per cent of which will be affordable".

Earth, air, fire and water and their modern descendants - notably oil, gas, sewage and electricity - are the building blocks of modern urban regeneration. The obscure Sands Ends section of Fulham is a case in point. On an L-shaped, 32-acre former gasworks, St George is building Imperial Wharf with 1,665 apartments, "approximately 50 per cent of which will be affordable".

The developer has collared "one of the largest remaining central Thamesside locations". Just north of the St George development, the Lots Road power station will soon stop feeding juice to London Underground. When it does, the building on this 6.2-acre site will form the centrepiece of a mixed-use complex of one-to-three-bedroom apartments and lofts.

The scheme's architects, Terry Farrell and Partners, say: "This will be the first of London's great power stations to be converted to residential use." Like Bankside power station, now the Tate Modern, it has the heft to yield some 500 residential units. Unlike Tate Modern, it will be lightened and opened out with glass in arches that have been bricked up for years.

These developments are occurring either side of Chelsea Harbour, part of which is also being regenerated. Where there had been an uninterrupted string of derelict wharves and utility company facilities, there will soon be an unbroken line of modern flats and shops with parks and riverside promenades.

"Sands End has always been regarded as secondary, but the new development will vastly improve the whole area, resulting in price rises," foresees Benson Beard of estate agents Jackson-Stops & Staff.

Former Chelsea resident and current Fulhamite, Lindsay Cuthill of FPDSavills, has worked in the area for 17 years: "Fulham's transformation in such a short time is hard to believe. Our buyers have noticed the change. Foreigners are more willing to make it their destination of choice instead of a compromise." Fulham attractsEuropeans, Americans, Australians and South Africans, along with native bankers, lawyers and City toilers.

Mr Cuthill admits "many people would prefer to live in Chelsea if they could afford it but Fulham is ideal for bringing up children, is less congested and slightly friendlier". Along with a handful of recent developments, the new projects will significantly add to Fulham's property types: "Typical Fulham is Victorian terraced houses. It is mostly what they do inside that makes them interesting," he says.

The current market favours buyers. "In March, we had 20 instructions,today we have 60," says Mr Cuthill. "We've not seen asking prices fall except where the price was unrealistically high. Today a buyer can get 2 or 3 per cent off a reasonable asking price."

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