What a way to run a Railway Inquiry

From day one TfL (Transport for London) made it clear the proposed Northern Line Extension (NLE) was not about addressing transport infrastructure but about enhancing property values in the so called Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area.

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The only question the NLE seems to address is how, in the middle of a freezing winter, can a City Fat Cat wake up in his £30m glass and steel penthouse, that desecrates the Art Deco architectural integrity of the Power Station and, North American style, get to his City penthouse office “desk” without going outside. Going to “work”  attired in just summer casuals- slacks and short sleeve shirt?

Answer have public money spent on running an underground tube to your door step so you can take a private lift down to the platform ( via the shopping mall ) and get on a city branch train direct to the City.

Aside from the ludicrous cost of this white elephant toy train for the rich there is the fact that all those commuters living south of Kennington will have to change trains there to get on the City Branch.

Since 1983 the Battersea Power Station Community Group have drawn attention to the neglect of the Battersea Power Station by a succession of owners. They have criticised inappropriate and harmful development proposals and proposed their own alternatives, such as the People’s Plan of 1986. Recently they released their ‘Proof of Evidence’ on the Northern Line Extension in Battersea. A summary of what came out of it:

“We support the principle of connecting the tube to Battersea Power Station, provided it was publicly funded and serves the whole of north Battersea, including Battersea Park, Latchmere and Clapham Junction, reducing unit costs. We also feel that transportation improvements could be achieved more quickly and at lower cost if other transort modes had also been considered. The current proposal represents poor value of money.

We do not consider that having a tube station in east Battersea to be a condition precedent for the succesful redevelopment of the Battersea Power Station site or other sites in the VNEB ”Opportunity Area” would certainly not be considered. The development of these sites has gone ahead on the basis of existing transport infrastructure. The justification that the NLE would support development at higher densities necessary to pay for it is circular and illogical.

We fear that, despite the arguments advanced at this inquiry, the decision to build NLE has already been made. The NLE appears in government budgets and announcements where is it talked about by politicians as if already agreed. Implementation of planning permission 2009/3575 is impossible without the NLE being built. Nevertheless we hope that – in the light of the evidence presented- the outcome of this inquiry will confound the expectations of TfL and Wandsworth Council, and will cause transport provision in east Battersea to be reconsidered.”

Connecting Battersea to the tube network (NLE or some other line) is a wider public good. The developer of the Battersea Power Station site should not be asked to pay for this.

To conclude with, transportation improvements could be made more quickly and at lower costs if other transport modes had been considered. The current proposal represents very poor value for money. Connecting the tube to Battersea Power Station would however be supported, provided it was publicly funded and serves the whole of north Battersea, including Battersea Park, Latchmere and Clapham Junction, reducing unit costs.

For a full critique of the NLE see Proof of Evidence 13-12-13

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Opponents of the Northern Line Extension, and why they’re right

At the start of this year, January 28, there was already opposition against the extension of the Northern Line. Liberal Democrats in Lambeth have suggested a Docklands-style light rail or monorail link between Waterloo, Vauxhall and Battersea as an alternative. Local campaigners also question the transport benefits of adding an extra branch to an already complicated and overcrowded rail route like the Northern line.

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“The only way to relieve the existing crush let alone cope with the massive influx of fresh commuters being generated by the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea new town is by a completely separate system,” say the Lambeth Liberal Democrats in an unsigned comment piece published on the party website.”

”We’ve suggested it before and we’ll say it again, there needs to be a thorough appraisal of a light rail elevated transport system like the Docklands Light Railway.”

”Common sense suggests that this would be massively cheaper than a deep-bored tube line and it could even be a 21st-century monorail system rather than the slightly Trumpton-esque DLR.”

”It could also run all the way to Waterloo – maybe attached to the existing railway viaduct – and later linked to the DLR. After all there’s massive regeneration going on south of the river all the way from Wandsworth to Southwark.”

See the full article.

More recently, the Guardian reported about the concerns of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home:

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is demanding Transport for London (TfL) reconsiders plans for the Northern line extension over fears it will force its animals to be relocated.

The rescue home, in Battersea Park Road, Battersea, is within touching distance of a new station planned to open at Battersea Power Station.

Chiefs at the charity have said the welfare of the animals could be affected during construction, while the extension would mean the rescue home could not expand in the future.

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The Evening Standard reports that the rescue home has joined the Beefeater Gin distillery in nearby Kennington, to write to the Transport Secretary opposing being made to sell large swaths of property. It would have to vacate 70 per cent of its site on a 14-day notice, it says, under legislation proposed by TfL.

In the letter to Patrick McLoughlin, seen by property website CoStar News, home chief executive Claire Horton calls TfL’s sweeping powers “excessive”, adding that the transport body “has insufficient understanding of the complexity and sophistication of the facilities at our building”.

Chivas Brothers, operators from the Beefeater distillery, has also written objecting to TfL’s plans to compulsorily purchase land for a ventilation shaft. The company says dangers posed by the construction would prevent it operating on the site.

Enough reasons to reconsider the Northen Line Extension, so it seems.

Michèle Dix, managing director of planning for TfL, said: “We are working through a Transport and Works Act Order process and are not expecting a decision on the Northern line extension from the Government until summer 2014.

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Public inquiry into proposed Northern Line Extension to Nine Elms and Battersea

Transport for London (TFL) is proposing to extend the Northern line (Charing Cross branch) to Battersea, via a new station at Nine Elms, as part of wider plans to regenerate the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea area.

If you’re interested in this, view the provisional outline programme for public inquiry, which is running the next four weeks.

This Northern line extension (NLE) forms part of wider plans to regenerate the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea area.

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Following public consultations in 2010 and 2011, the Council’s Cabinet approved a recommendation to support this preferred route (January 2012 Cabinet Report). However, in response to community concerns, TfL was asked to do some further design work and analysis, particularly around the locations of the shaft.

TfL has now produced an update leaflet on the consultation and work so far. Further consultation is proposed over the coming months. You can find out more or sign up for regular updates at the TfL Northern line extension page.

The extension of the Northern line is part of wider plans to improve public transport in the area to respond to levels of development expected in Vauxhall and Nine Elms. Additional public transport is needed to support this new development and to benefit existing residents and businesses.

Less pressure on Vauxhall station and relief to the existing Northern line south of Kennington. The extension is a partially privately funded project by the site developers, SP Setia and palm oil conglomerate Sime Darby, with contributions from other sources such as the proposed new US Embassy. Subject to permission from the Secretary of State for Transport to build and operate the extension and the required funding being in place, construction could begin in 2015, and the extension could be open by 2020.Battersea will be the new southern terminus, with a new station at Nine Elms on Wandsworth Road. Both new stations will be in Travelcard Zone 2.

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Kilner House showing at the Made Possible by Squatting exhibition

Our 1981 documentary Kilner House has been selected for the Made Possible by Squatting exhibition held in a squatted building.

Kilner House in Kennington was occupied as part of the Squat against Sales campaign against the first Greater London Council house sales.

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The exhibition will run from 9th-16th of September at 15 Dock Street E1 8JN. During this time stories and histories will be collected into an on-line archive.  There are over 30 pieces going into the exhibition from interactive mapping of London squat history, to puppet performances, to some great documentary films, installations and pop-up books!

There will also be a rota to have people in the space at all times.

Made Possible by Squatting seeks submissions for an on-line archive that collectively celebrates how squatting has positively affected the lives of individuals & communities in London.

See our interviews with anti-squat company Camelot who lobbied in Netherlands, France and UK for squatting to be made a criminal offence.

See our Spectacle Catalogue for buying Kilner House.
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Battersea Power Station: Out of the frying pan into the fire

The horror story continues…

Nightmare on Nine Elm Street

The abysmal Vinoly plans for Battersea Power Station that we had all hoped were finally dead and buried with the collapse of previous owners REO has come back to haunt all who care about the beautiful building and the quality of life for all those living in its shadow and the surrounding area.

Just when you thought it was safe Architect Viñoly has been hired as “creative brain” behind developer Mike Hussey’s plan for a new stadium for Chelsea football club. AAAHHHHHHGGGGG……

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REO collapses into administration

Real Estate Opportunities has been put into administration by a UK judge after its owners failed to repay debts of £501m owed to Lloyds Banking Group and Ireland’s National Management Asset Agency (NAMA).

Administrators Ernst & Young have taken control of the Grade II listed red-brick building and will now either sell the site or the debt to recover the amount owed. The creditors initially called in the loans on 29 November and REO was inviting offers for its controlling stake in the site soon after.

Lloyds told the Guardian: “From the outset we have been determined to secure a buyer who will kickstart the regeneration of Battersea Power Station and we have done everything possible to give the owners both the time and financial support to achieve this.”


“However, after several months of discussions and still no acceptable offers on the table, administration is the only means we have to ensure that a sales process is put back on track. Without a financially stable owner, the site’s future remains unclear and that’s a situation we want to avoid.”

Keith Garner of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, which opposed the Irish company’s plans, called for the power station to be returned to the public sector, with repairs to be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The group said on its blog: “For the Battersea Power Station Community Group it is just another ‘new beginning’ as the fourth developer limps off stage to boos and jeers.”

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Your TV tonight: The undead Grey Men of Battersea Power Station

On ITV’s London Tonight and LBC radio you can watch or hear Ravi Govindia, the leader of Wandsworth Council who, as former cabinet member for “strategic planning and transportation”, is particularly responsible for the failed private-property owner led regeneration of the area,  trying to defend the borough’s pathetic policy towards the obviously flawed and greedy plans for Battersea Power Station.

Only a few days ago George Osborne and Boris Johnson were doing their best to puff the disastrous scheme which is now as all but dead and buried by the creditors calling in their loans.


For the Battersea Power Station Community Group (BPSCG) it is just another “new beginning” as the fourth developer limps off stage to boos and jeers.

Keith Garner is also interviewed calling for the whole site to be put into public ownership for a sensible, viable, gradual development of the historic and beautiful building and its surrounding site. An ideal exhibition for industrial power ( see our previous blogs). Keith cites the difference in the approach of Southwark to the other Gilbert-Scott designed river front power station, the highly successful Tate Modern. Through partnerships and a gradual, planned development it shows what Battersea residents could have had these past 30 years.

WATCH: ITV London Tonight on Battersea Power Station debt

Spectacle’s crew were there today too and will be posting soon the bits of the interviews the broadcaster left out. Including an hilarious episode where the owners try to stop ITV filming by shutting the gates. Perhaps their last act.

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Creditors call in Battersea Power Station debts

For Sale

 

NAMA and Lloyds  are owed 502 million pounds ($786 million) by the owners of Battersea Power Station and they want their money back. Now.

Despite REO’s attempt at positive spin (see below) their ridiculous plan is over and it is about time the heritage site was brought into public ownership and restored as a site for Industrial Power.

 

Real Estate Opportunities plc (the Company)
Battersea Power Station facilities:

The Company announces that certain subsidiaries (BPS Subsidiaries) of Battersea Power Station Shareholder Vehicle Limited, the holding company of Battersea Power Station formed for the purposes of the restructuring that was announced in April 2011 and which is 54% owned by the Company, have received demand for repayment from Bank of Scotland plc, as agent for the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and Lloyds Banking Group the (together the senior lenders), under the senior facilities advanced in respect of the Battersea Power Station site, aggregating approximately £324m, and from Oriental Property Limited under the facilities advanced by it to the BPS Subsidiaries, aggregating approximately £178m. The BPS Subsidiaries are currently not in a position to satisfy these demands for repayment.  The Company has also been advised that NAMA  and Lloyds Banking Group have applied to the English court for the appointment of administrators to certain of the BPS  Subsidiaries and that a hearing for this purpose is to be held on 12 December 2011.
The Company remains in discussions which may result in the disposal of the group’s interest in the Battersea Powerstation site and repayment of associated liabilities.  However, there is no certainty that any such transaction will be effected.
The Company’s other assets, which are situated in Ireland, are unaffected by the above developments. The Company has recently received term sheets from NAMA, the principal lender in respect of its Irish assets, indicating NAMA’s continued support for the Company’s business in Ireland.

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Why the Northern Line extension will never happen

The recent PR buff on Battersea Power Station has left us no closer to a solution to the issue. Chancellor George Osborne and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, have been talking about the Northern Line extension and oligarch Roman Abramovich has received media attention by saying that he’s thinking about moving Chelsea Football Club‘s home ground South East of the site.

Extending the Northern line from Kennington to Battersea is one thing – funding the project is another. During the Autumn Statement in the Commons today, Osborne stated that the government will back the project – but did not mention with how much. He also called for “a developer” to contribute to the project and develop the power station site before a deadline of 2013.

The project is still heavily reliant on private funding and current owners Treasury Holdings is going to struggle. A scheme this size, roughly three times the size of Canary Wharf if you include Nine Elms, is always going to be difficult to get up and running at the best of times. But in a recession..?

Giving the Northern Line extension green light and talking up the moribund and equally fantastic Rafael Viñoly’s nightmare vision of gloomy glass canyons, is certainly invaluable property pump priming. And it’s hard to imagine why the Conservatives are so happy to collude in this theatre, given that they held their 2010 election campaign launch under the same chimneys which Battersea Power Station’s owner Richard Barrett, one of the co-founders of Treasury Holdings, once said “would fall in strong wind.”

Recently, Tory dominated Wandsworth Borough Council’s planning committee gave Treasury Holdings permission to demolish the power station’s chimneys on the grounds that they were unsafe. However, many experts disagree and local residents believe that, like the roof which was never replaced, the chimneys will never be re-built once they are gone. If Treasury Holdings really believe that the chimneys are precarious, it shows a very cavalier approach to the health and safety of Her Majesty’s Opposition, as there wasn’t a hard hat in sight.

The Battersea Power Station should become a World Heritage site for industrial power. The site has a unique Victorian Pumping Station with site of the biggest Cornish engine of its day. It also has spectacular gasometers dating from 1910 as well as, of course, the beautiful coal-powered art deco power station.

It would be nice to see Abramovich spend some of his heard-earned billions derived from oil, show some philanthropic decency and rescue the site from the clutches of the myopic grey men. They would simply turn the site into just another crass, desolated, windswept and empty river-front development along the banks of the Thames.

The Big Society was prime minister David Cameron’s flagship policy idea for the 2010 election campaign and has stated that it’s his “mission.” One may ask, if one of the world’s richest men isn’t going to chip in – then who will?

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New Nine Elms development no more than a Battery of Tower Blocks

Architect Keith Garner is voicing strenuous objections to the so-called ‘regeneration opportunity’ at Nine Elms in Battersea. Wandsworth council and developer St James are proposing the construction of tower blocks of 16,000 new homes, along with shops, offices and a tube extension. He went to see an interactive model of the area, along with videos and other visual displays at the exhibition at Battersea Studios, off Silverthorne Road.

Model of proposed Nine Elms development

Garner, who is also a member of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, is objecting to what he views as a “deeply unattractive project,” on three grounds: the destruction of views, especially of Westminster Palace, the disappearance of promised open green spaces and thirdly, the nonsensical positioning of the new northern line extension from Kennington.

To allow a battery of tower blocks to be built at the east of the area towards Vauxhall would ruin the ordinary public’s views upstream from Waterloo and Westminster and downstream from Battersea and Chelsea, points out Garner, apart from residents and tenants of the new development. Millbank Tower, now a Grade II listed building, was consciously designed to replicate the proportions of Victoria Tower nearby. However, its presence should not be used merely to justify yet another “collection of banal residential and office towers,” which are likely to spoil the backdrop of the Palace of Westminster looking down Whitehall.

Model shows planned cluster of new tower blocks

The architect also noted that the linear park ‘green swathe’ that was such a redeeming feature and justification for the project had vanished from the model! He said it was clear from speaking to Wandsworth Borough Council (WBC) staff at the exhibition that the developers were just ignoring the requirement to have a large green open space and that they had no real power to make them provide it. “Shouldn’t the areas designated as green swathe have been compulsorily purchased or handed over by the developers to WBC?” he remonstrated.

In addition, there was a missed opportunity to move Nine Elms Lane back from the river to the approximate line of the lamented green swathe, as the narrow sites between Nine Elms Lane and the river are so pinched and uncomfortable. This would enable larger sites adjacent to the river and the possibility of more substantial riverside public space than the customary 10 metre wide riverside walk. Moving the road may or may not be a good idea, but could at least have been been investigated. Bigger blocks should be up towards Wandsworth Road, not right by the river.

Finally, the proposed Northern Line extension from Kennington seemed to be purely to serve these development sites, and was not integrated properly at all with east Battersea. “Why, for instance, does the terminus at Battersea Power Station stop about 200 metres short of Battersea Park station? Why, indeed, are there no plans to refurbish the listed Battersea Park Station?” enquires Garner. “There is no public benefit to the existing communities of east Battersea from having the Northern Line, yet almost all the S106 money will go to pay for it rather than real benefits such as upgrading Battersea Park and Queenstown Road stations from their current squalid state, or other real public benefits such as new public park on the river or a 50 metre swimming pool.”

Garner concludes: “The overall impression the exhibition gave me was that this was just another developers’ carve-up like the Guinness site and the riverbank from Wandsworth to Battersea in general, with very little public benefit and a great deal of harm. If this ‘unrivalled opportunity for businesses’ means doing so much damage in an area beside the river and close to the city centre, then the council needs to re-examine its priorities. I would prefer these sites to be left fallow until more civilised and intelligent proposals come forward.”

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