By Claire West

The Mayor of London has welcomed news that the Government has agreed a loan of up to £1bn that will allow London Underground to fund an extension of the Northern Line to the Battersea Power Station site. Extending the Northern Line is key to kickstarting regeneration of the Nine Elms area of south London, which offers the greatest potential for new growth and development in the capital since the expansion of Canary Wharf; and is perhaps the largest inner city regeneration project in Western Europe.

The Mayor has lobbied for an extension of the Northern Line which is the key to unlocking the potential of a planning framework for the Vauxhall/Nine Elms/Battersea Opportunity Area that was published by the Mayor earlier this year. The framework sets out the Mayor’s ambition for the creation of around 16,000 new homes and up to 25,000 jobs in the area.

It has also been confirmed that as part of the deal the Government will work with the Mayor’s Office and the London boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth to create a zone in which the expected uplift in business rates, alongside developer contributions, will enable the Greater London Authority to repay the Government loan that funds the northern line extension.

As well as enabling access to the Tube for thousands more passengers the transport benefits from building an extension to the Northern Line include cutting journey times from that part of London to the West End and the City to around 15 minutes, reduced pressure on Vauxhall station, relief to existing Northern line services south of Kennington and wider access to leisure and employment opportunities for local people.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “I am delighted that after months of intensive discussions and hard work we have got the go ahead from Government on financing an extension to the Northern Line, which is hugely significant as Nine Elms is one of the areas with the greatest prospect for new development in the whole of the capital. It will be an incredible confidence boost for developers preparing to invest there and it will also be a considerable boost for local people who will benefit from the new Tube link.”

Officials from the Mayor’s Office and TfL will now finalise arrangements for financing of the extension with the Government. However work could begin on the extension by 2015 and services could begin operation by 2020.

A go ahead on financing the extension is the latest in a series of milestones to be achieved on the project over the last 12 months as considerable progress has been made on taking forward the planning framework for Nine Elms. In the last year alone a new buyer has been confirmed for the Battersea Power station site and plans have been proposed for a redevelopment of the site that will see the creation of 3,400 new homes, a new office quarter, a retail centre, new hotels, and an entertainment district.

A consultation is also already underway on the proposed extension of the Northern Line to Nine Elms and Battersea. The consultation is an essential piece of work that must be carried out before an application for a Transport and Works Act Order, which is required for infrastructure of this scale, is finalised in spring 2013.