Battersea Power Station work opened by David Cameron and Malaysian PM

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Media captionThe Malaysian developers claim to have already sold over 800 homes due to be built at the site

Construction work on the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station into a shopping and residential site has formally begun.

Prime Minister David Cameron and his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib Razak inaugurated building work on the £8bn Malaysian-backed project.

The politicians watched the official ground-breaking ceremony at the 39-acre site by the River Thames.

The site will be redeveloped into 3,500 homes, offices, shops and a park.

Battersea Power Station has been vacant since being decommissioned in 1983 and features on English Heritage's At Risk register.

Numerous efforts to revive the Grade II listed building - famed for its four brick chimneys - have failed.

The first phase of the redevelopment is expected to be completed by 2016.

Tube comes to Battersea

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This is a great day. It has been a long time to get the Battersea Power Station development going.

"It stopped producing power 30 years ago and it has taken this long to get off the ground. It needed your help."

Mr Najib said: "It is a shining example of what we can do when we get together. We are partners for prosperity."

A Malaysian consortium behind it - comprising S P Setia, Sime Darby and the Employees Provident Fund - say the project will take at least 10 years to complete and generate 15,000 jobs.

Image caption The redevelopment will take 10 years to complete

The group said up to 841 homes at the development, worth £685m, have already been sold.

Chairman of the consortium Tan Sri Liew said: "It is exactly one year since we first signed the sale contract for the acquisition of the site.

"To have achieved this result of not just launching Phase 1 of the development but having signed contracts with purchasers for over 97% of the available units is truly remarkable."

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who was also present, said: "Many thought it would never happen but today is a triumphant moment in Battersea Power Station's rebirth as well as a glowing testimony to London's attractiveness for global investors."

Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: "This project is lifting the fortunes of an entire district and will bring the Tube to Battersea for the very first time.

"We have already attracted more than £15bn of new investment to this part of the South Bank and there is no sign of it slowing down."

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