Battersea’s industrial spaces are an endangered species! Developers regularly go scouting around the lesser corners of the Borough looking for anything that looks a bit ‘industrial’, with a view to converting it to new residential development. This can be a bit of a problem – as we still have thousands of small and medium sized businesses, which create lots of local jobs and are an important part of the local economy – but which are finding it harder and harder to find locations as their unglamorous-but-useful premises are destroyed.
Which is why a planned development on Havelock Terrace is interesting. The location – pictured above – is a whisker south of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Chances are you won’t immediately recognise it, as it’s not the most exciting bit of Battersea – a pair of dreary industrial buildings from the 1970s, trapped between a variety of other light industrial buildings. Just the sort of site that is very much on the ‘endangered’ list right now – so much so that its neighbour is already being rebuilt by student accommodation specialists Urbanest to create 174 student flats and a large office building. That vast construction project is shown below, with the about-to-also-be-rebuilt industrial building just visible peeking through the railway arch to its right.
But this particular industrial building has proved a surprisingly successful one. It’s owned and managed as a business centre by Workspace, who own and manage 58 business centres across London – from converted factory buildings to co-working hubs and purpose-built managed business centres. They keep things simple and flexible with an ‘all inclusive’ approach where all bills are included, leases are short, and tenants can grow or shrink the space they need at quite short notice, which seems to be working as they now host around 3,000 small and medium-sized businesses.
Workspace’s Battersea business centre is home to myriad small tenants doing everything from IT startups to clothing design. It has particularly high occupancy levels, and they receive a steady stream of enquiries from new tenants, despite them not doing any active marketing at all. They expect demand to ramp up even further now the previously-somewhat-isolated site is about a minutes’ walk from a Zone 1 tube station. All of which explains why redevelopment is on the cards – but not for replacement with flats.
Workspace are planning to demolish everything and build a new 15-storey building specifically aimed at businesses and light industry – creating a lot more space and bringing it all up to modern standards, with generous high floor to ceiling heights. The planned new building pictured above, will have a mix of of unit sizes which have been designed to be flexible and good to work in – the smaller ones have double-height break out spaces with communal terraces and outdoor spaces, while the medium-sized open plan units have larger private terraces. The ground and first floor have the largest units, aimed at light industrial workshops that are likely to be moving big and heavy things around – so are equipped with access to a loading bay, directly or via a dedicated goods lift, as well as high ceilings, and extra-wide doors and corridors.
The new building will also include communal facilities – with a cafe, and meeting / reception areas, as well as a communal roof terrace. There will be a retail unit next to the main entrance, as well as cycle parking, showers and lockers in the basement. Workspace aim to start construction in the first half of next year. Obviously one question is what happens to the existing tenants during the works: in the longer them this will create more space, but for some time it will be a hole in the ground! Existing tenants will be given a minimum of 4 months’ notice before development starts, with the option to move to Workspace’s other local sites, which include Morie Street Studios and The Light Bulb (both in Wandsworth town centre).
This isn’t the first proposal for higher-rise industrial use – maybe because the site is within the Battersea Design and Technology Quarter, an area shown in orange in the map above which is being deliberately developed as a home to business. We’ve written previously about some of the projects underway on the ‘Ingate Place’ part of the site, and two other similar proposals are also being developed in the Havelock terrace area, shown in orange and light green below –
Another small industrial building at 16-48 Havelock Terrace, directly across the road from Workspace’s project, has planning permission to be replaced with a pair of new buildings – one of them thirteen storeys and one nine, which will together provide 15,000 square metres of flexible workspace as a ground floor communal facility. The approach being taken is similar to what Workspace are planning but on a slightly smaller scale – with scope for light industry at the lower levels, and flexible office and workspace on the upper levels.
The image above shows these two buildings from Nine Elms Lane, and the one below shows these two buildings on the left, with the planned Workspace building not shown but set to be built just behind the brick wall pictured on the right. It may take time for these buildings to take shape – but the future for this little-known corner of Battersea looks quite high-rise! This spot between the railway lines is a location where it makes sense to build upwards, and it’s good to see that we’re not losing the space for the businesses that create local jobs and opportunities. As ever, we’ll keep you posted on developments.