Various stages of construction work taking place in the developments at Nine Elms
Nine Elms, as viewed from a grubby window in Market Towers.

One of the privileges of being a councillor over the past few years has been the opportunity to be involved—however tangentially—in the council’s three regeneration projects in Battersea, Roehampton and Nine Elms. I’ve posted a few times about the Battersea and Roehampton regenerations, but sometimes feel I’ve not been that forthcoming about Nine Elms (although there have been a few posts on related topics.)

Nine Elms, of course, needs no help in promoting itself. Even before you consider the marketing budgets of the individual developers or the work of the Nine Elms team its central London location and iconic buildings, whether present or future, means my occasional musings can only be on the fringes of relevance.

However, one aspect I have been involved in is the employment aspect and this is somewhere the council is playing a big rôle. I’m hugely proud of the work of Wandsworth Work Match who are already getting jobs for local residents in Nine Elms (and elsewhere). If forced to think of highlights from being a councillor then getting the feedback from Work Match after I’ve referred people to them would easily be among them.

Much is made of the more than 20,000 jobs that Nine Elms will create when complete. Rightly so. It has to be the chief benefit of the development for local residents. However, when we push that we tend to overlook the construction jobs created while development takes place.

The Nine Elms Strategy Board last week had a presentation from Mace who have undertaken skills forecasting work for the board. The idea is to understand what sort of jobs would be required and when, so training providers can adapt their offer accordingly. The sheer scale of Nine Elms means that the skills that will be required do not exist in sufficient numbers in London: we either have to import workers from elsewhere, or train them.

The numbers required are huge. Without going into the detail of various skills or phasing there will be over 8,500 people working on construction sites at the peak in 2016 when there will be 25 separate projects. Between 2015 and 2021 the number of workers will never drop below 5,000 jobs, overall there’s anticipated to be at least ten years of construction at Nine Elms.

The challenge for the council is ensuring that a fair share (or maybe more than a fair share) of those jobs are taken by Wandsworth residents. If you, or someone you know, think you right for one of them then get in touch with Work Match.

The Workmatch office sign
Wandsworth Workmatch’s offices on Lavender Hill

Wandsworth’s Workmatch service was officially launched with a small ceremony at its new Lavender Hill offices earlier this week. The service acts as a brokerage, matching local employers with potential local employees, its first priority is ensuring that local people benefit as much as possible from the development taking place at Nine Elms.

The idea is simple. The team at Workmatch, because they know the needs of employers and the skills of their candidates can help both find each other easily, so employers can fill their vacancies easily and job-seekers have an easier route into employment. And while it will be Nine Elms focussed to begin, it can help anyone–employer or potential employee–in Wandsworth.

While it’s new here it is a concept that was used successfully in many other places, most notably in the Olympic boroughs where their equivalent service helped ensure the success of the games while creating a tangible benefit for east London residents. Ben, one of Workmatch’s early successes spoke at the launch, telling everyone how he went from a general enquiry to the email address (which despite the address is managed by Wandsworth on behalf of Nine Elms) to a placement and then a job in a matter of weeks.

Huge thanks and congratulations on the launch of the Workmatch service are due to the council’s Economic Development Team and the new Workmatch staff, who have taken it from an idea to an already successful service in a matter of months. And at the risk of being parochial someway ahead of Lambeth’s equivalent service, meaning Wandsworth residents have a great head-start on getting jobs in Nine Elms!

If you are interested in the Workmatch service you can find out more on the council’s website or contact them directly at

Various stages of construction work taking place in the developments at Nine Elms
Nine Elms, as viewed from a grubby window in Market Towers.

I represented Wandsworth on a tour of Nine Elms by Greater London Assembly regeneration committee members yesterday. Similar tours of the area are a fairly frequent event, reflecting the size of interest in what is central London’s last big development opportunity. However, diary clashes have meant I haven’t taken part in too many of them.

An upside to this is that I’m always slightly taken aback by the amount of work that has taken place behind the hoardings (although I run along Nine Elms Lane at least once a week, you don’t actually see that much from ground level). And every time I seem to be made aware of something I already knew, but hadn’t quite fully grasped for some reason.

This time it was how quickly this is all happening: I may have been filled with confidence by the Power Station ground breaking or news of sales on the developments but hadn’t fully realised that the first new residents of Nine Elms will be moving into Riverlight (the buildings in front of the Power Station in the poor quality snap above) about this time next year. Those residents will be joined by the first phase of Embassy Gardens and the completion of One St George Wharf1 next year.

Nine Elms is rapidly moving from an abstract vision to provider of homes, jobs and leisure.

  1. Be warned, this page automatically plays music that leaves you wondering what super-hero film trailer is playing. I will award a Mars bar to the best suggestion for a super-power that matches the music. 

I have been tracking, on here, the figures for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claims in Wandsworth for well over a year. May showed another small drop; 6,519 people claimed JSA, 124 (1.9%) fewer than the previous month, although still 89 (1.4%) more than the same time last year.

It does seem that the total claims have hit something of a plateau, something that becomes even more apparent if you look at the numbers of claims for the duration of the recession.

And it’s very difficult to guess what will happen next. There has long been speculation about a jobless recovery (in which businesses do not replace jobs that were lost during the recession) or a double dip recovery – neither of which bode well for the figures.

However, these threats have to be balanced by government plans to tackle unemployment which (and politically I would say this) I hope are likely to be more effective than the previous governments. To me, the recent announcement that to look at ways of helping people move to areas with more work (it’s the reason I left my home town to move to London) rather than forcing them to stay in an area of unemployment because they live in social housing. Other announcements – which I’ve yet to see condemned by the opposition – of creating a single welfare to work programme and funding providers on outcomes (like getting people into work) rather than the outputs (how many people they see) will hopefully start the transition from JSA and incapacity benefit being a transitional support while people get back in to the workplace rather than the permanent benefit they have become for all too many people.