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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Excitement over landmark project

Lancaster House is a mansion at the affluent St James district in London. It is a landmark that has gained prominence in recent years after it was used as a location in the award-winning British movie The King's Speech.

The building has now become the British Business Embassy and an Olympics investment conference is being held there until the Games are over.

While the Olympic Park will see men and women in track suits, the British Prime Minister is hoping to see more people in business suits visiting Lancaster House.

There are good reasons the fact is that Britain is in the longest double-dip recession in 50 years and official figures released recently showed that the number of inward investment projects has fallen for the third year in a row.

An estimated 4,000 top businessmen are expected to watch the games and David Cameron is hoping they will take time off to do some business.

If the athletes are looking at gold medals, the PM is looking at £1bil in new deals.

He is well aware that the Olympics have bankrupted some host cities.

The Olympic Park is located in East London, regarded as the downside of London, and the naysayers have questioned whether the location could be transformed after the security fence of the Games comes down.

But of all the business deals that have been spoken about, the biggest eye opener is the £8bil development of the Battersea power station.

On the day that I arrived in London last Thursday, I switched on the television in my hotel room to watch Cameron talking about the Battersea project, Pink Floyd and Malaysia.

He had spoken about his trip to several countries including Malaysia on an investment tour and he singled out the importance of the development of Battersea which involved a consortium comprising SP Setia Bhd, Sime Darby Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund.

The same day, London Mayor Boris Johnson hailed the project, which he described as a regeneration scheme, where an estimated 16,470 homes would be built.

More importantly, new shops and businesses could create 33,000 jobs 13,000 permanent.

That is the sort of excitement Malaysia has created in London as the city has an unemployment rate of 8.9% but thanks to the Games, there was a 1.2% dip.

The Battersea power station is located on the south bank of the River Thames on a 15.82ha site and represents one of the last few opportunities for an important development in London.

An extension of the Northern Line tube network will see a ride of eight minutes from Westminster and 12 minutes from the City.

The Malaysian consortium, it is understood, managed to beat Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich to it for the site because the local non-governmental organisations were unhappy with his plans to set up a stadium there along with other mixed development.

Residents in the area feared that the prices of their properties would drop if a massive stadium was built, as it would result in horrendous traffic congestions.

The British press has given positive coverage to the Battersea project.

For the EPF contributors, a property investment project in London not in the other parts of England is a guarantee for getting investment returns.

There are many property buyers but little land or properties for sale because of the strict rules against high-rise buildings in London.

The reality is that land does not grow in London and it has proven to be recession-proof as far as properties are concerned because the City is an international hub.

Well, Cameron like the actor Colin Firth who portrayed King George VI in the movie delivered a fantastic speech to the listeners which comprised of investors and businessmen.

But Cameron will be judged by how many medals he can collect before his term is over. That's what counts finally.

By The Star

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