Battersea Power Station Chimneys demolition- History repeating

URGENT NEWS ON BATTERSEA POWER STATION CHIMNEY DEMOLITION

Thursday 12th June representatives of the BPSCG (Battersea Power Station Community Group) met with Paul Landsberg of Wandsworth Borough Council Planning Department to discuss their concerns regarding the legal and financial protections in place ahead of the imminent demolition of the chimneys, in particular whether the bond is in force and whether it is large enough to cover the cost of rebuilding the chimneys should the developer fail to replace them.  What they discovered was deeply disturbing:

The bond money is held in a Malaysian bank, CIMB
The value of the bond for the reconstruction of three and a half chimneys is only £11million.
The value of the bond is based on an estimate supplied by Philip Gullet of the Battersea Power Station Development Company.
This estimate has not been independently checked by cost consultants employed by Wandsworth Council or English Heritage.
The contract sum for the demolition and rebuilding of the chimneys was redacted from the copy of the contract sent to Wandsworth. So it is not possible to compare demolition costs against rebuilding.
The Council does not know if the bond is signed and in force, although the reconstruction contract starts next Monday.

HISTORY REPEATING…

This is all the more alarming in light of what happened when John Broome, the first failed developer of the site, took down but never replaced the west wall and roof, as it remains to this day. The council’s own report in 1989 criticised the woeful lack of safeguards and- some would say- gullibility of the planning officers.

According to Battersea Power Station Community Group the bond money should be held in a British bank if Wandsworth and English Heritage are to have any chance of getting at it in the event of a default.  The total value of the bond also needs to be increased substantially if it is to be able to cover the reconstruction of three and a half chimneys, if a default occurs.

With the chimneys reconstruction contract about to start, it is clear that Wandsworth Council and English Heritage are not protecting our cultural heritage -either in checking the proposed value of the bond or making sure the contract is signed and enforceable before the demolition and reconstruction project starts.

With interest rates about to rise, the possibility of the project failing yet again is increasing by the day.  If this happens when the chimneys are down, and it turns out the bond money isn’t there (as was the case in 1989 after Broome went bust)  the chimneys will never be rebuilt.

We need to rescue Battersea Power Station from these shameless, grey, dozing men who will sell our industrial heritage for peanuts and the enrichment of foreign “investors”. Keep an eye on the revolving door!

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URGENT-Save Battersea Water Pumping Station from demolition

We, the undersigned, ask Wandsworth Council to refuse listed building consent application 2014/1236 for the demolition of Battersea Water Pumping Station.

Battersea Water Pumping Station is the oldest surviving water pumping station in London.

It was built in 1840 for the Southwark Water Company and extended in 1856.  It housed a series of Cornish engines used for pumping water from the Thames.  At one time the pumping station housed the largest Cornish engine ever built, with a 112″ diameter cylinder.

The building was listed Grade II in 1994.

The pumping station commemorates the rich industrial heritage of the Nine Elms and North Battersea.  It has great potential to encouraging young people to think of science, technology and engineering as important skills worth acquiring.

Retaining and preserving the pumping station would attract visitors to the site and therefore increase footfall for the new facilities that will be open to the public.  It is in everybody’s interest that it is preserved.

We ask Wandsworth Council to initiate discussions with the owner/developer so that the development can be reconfigured to incorporate the pumping station

We further ask Wandsworth Council to convene negotiations between the owner/developer and the Battersea Power Station Company Ltd (a local registered charity) to allow the pumping station to be passed into the latter’s ownership for £1, to allow them to renovate the pumping station with Lottery funding.

Sean Creighton & Keith Garner

June 2014

Stop this cultural vandalism for profit.

PLEASE Sign the petition

For more blogs on the Battersea Water Pumping Station

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Next victim Battersea Power Station: the cranes

The new owners want to remove the listed cranes in front of the Power Station in order to use the jetty for the removal of spoil from tunnelling the Northern Line Extension ( NLE ). While it might be necessary to dismantle the cranes in order to restore there is no need to tie the timetable to the NLE works. The NLE will take years to complete even if it happens. Like the Euston Arch there is a real danger once removed they will never be put back. There is half a mile of river front where a more suitable purpose built jetty could be situated. It looks like yet another ploy to slowly clear the site of any historic or heritage obstacles to maximising profits- see demolition by stealth.

DSC_0673

Coal was usually brought to the Battersea Power Station by collier ships, and unloaded by cranes, which are still intact on the station’s riverfront. These two cranes were used to unload coal from barges for Battersea Power Station, and despite 25 years of disuse are in remarkably complete condition. But obviously the owners of the Battersea Power Station don’t care much about that. They’ve already got permission to take the cranes down.

The jetty facilities used two cranes to offload coal, with the capacity of unloading two ships at one time, at a rate of 480 tonnes an hour. Coal was also delivered by rail to the east of the station using the Brighton Main Line which passes near the site. Coal was usually delivered to the jetty, rather than by rail. A conveyor belt system was then used to take coal to the coal storage area or directly to the station’s boiler rooms. The conveyor belt system consisted of a series of bridges connected by towers. The coal storage area was a large concrete box capable of holding 75,000 tonnes of coal. This had an overhead gantry with a conveyor belt attached to the conveyor belt system, for taking coal from the coal store to the boiler rooms

DSC_0677

Now, the cranes will be facing demolishing. Even though they’re part of the listed Battersea Power Station and mentioned in the listing description:

”Subsidiary features: To the N on a jetty parallel to the river wall there are two cranes which were used to unload coal from collier boats. While of lesser significance, they were integral parts of the original complex and are now rare riverside features.”

The cranes complement the Battersea Power Station and help to explain its purpose and function. Other industrial archeology has already been lost, notably the travelling coal conveyor (dismantled by Parkview in 1995) and the raking conveyors into the building.

They should receive extra protection given these other losses.

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Battersea Power Station added to World Monuments Watch 2014

Finally somebody else noticed the endangered condition of Battersea Power Station.

And it’s even better than just noticing it, the Battersea Power Station will be added to the World Monuments Fund’s list of cultural heritage in danger for 2014.
The Power Station was already listed on the 2004 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund. So the inclusion also marks the 10th anniversary since the building was first included.

BPSderelict01

Hopefully this happening will draw attention to the continuing failure of a succession of private owners – mostly foreign based – together with Wandsworth Council and English Heritage, to see that the building is properly looked after and given appropriate new lease of life. We also hope that inclusion in the World Monuments Watch 2014 will help to bring about a new and better approach to the preservation of this important building.

Ten years ago, we were told by then owner Parkview that inclusion in the World Monuments Watch was unnecessary and they said: ”Plans for the restoration of this landmark are already well underway” (AJ 02.10.03).   But since 2004 there has been no progress at Battersea Power Station, which has been allowed to deteriorate further.

Parkview sold to Irish developers Treasury Holdings in 2006 which also made no progress and went bankrupt in 2012.  The current owners – a Malaysian consortium – propose to surround Battersea Power Station with blocks of flats up to 18 storeys high, obscuring the famous London landmark from most directions.

The consortium justify the excessive height of the towers by saying this is necessary to fund the restoration of the grade II* listed building.

We are calling for a different approach with ownership of Battersea Power Station transferred to a trust to be repaired using funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources.  (There are precedents for this: the former Bankside Power Station became Tate Modern with £50m of lottery money and £60m of private money.)

The consortium can develop the flat land at the back (the old South Lambeth Goods Yard site) and develop the unlisted parts of Battersea Power Station itself on a leasehold basis.  But key views of Battersea Power Station must be preserved and there should be free public access to the listed interiors.

The consortium also proposes to carry out Parkview’s plan to demolish the chimneys. This despite an authoritative engineering report jointly commissioned by the Twentieth Century Society, World Monuments Fund and ourselves in 2005 that showed that the case for demolition is not proved.  We fear that the consortium will take the chimneys down and will then invent a reason not to put them back up. They must be stopped.

BPSderelict02

38,000 people visited Battersea Power Station during London Open House, far more than any other building taking part. It is bizarre and anomalous that this hugely popular building has not benefited from Heritage Lottery Fund largesse since the lottery was established in 1995.   We call on English Heritage to take the lead in rectifying this situation.

Battersea Power Station has been described as “… one of the supreme monuments of twentieth century Britain”.  Foreign speculators can no longer be trusted with this important building which must be repatriated forthwith and repaired with public money.

Click Battersea Power Station for more blogs
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Battersea Power Station Community Group has been campaigning since 1983 to save the listed building. To make a donation click here.

The Battersea Files by Eclipse films – Kevin Murphy  001 520 836 8792

Battersea Power Station Open House, a video by Spectacle.

Further Contact:

Brian Barnes MBE 020 7627 5821 / 07748 554866
Keith Garner 020 7585 0421 / 07876 163638
Ernest Rodker 020 8672 9698
Angela Parkinson 07931 814607
Kett Murphy (USA) 00 1 312 320 2471

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Battersea Power Station history from the 30s to 1983

The Vauxhall Society reprints an extract from  ‘Battersea Power Station – 50 Years of Service – A Short History’ first published by CEGB Public Relations Branch in 1983.

The Vauxhall Society is the civic consultative group covering the London parliamentary constituency of Vauxhall, which extends from north of Waterloo to Brixton, Clapham, and Stockwell and Vauxhall, as well as the neighbouring districts of Southwark and Wandsworth.

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For more history of the power station click here
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Battersea Power Station- a tragi-comedy of errors

here today...

Battersea Power Station- a tragi-comedy of errors.

by our theatre critic BabyLonDon

Last night’s Wandsworth Borough Council Planning Committee meeting to approve the demolition of the Victorian Battersea Pumping Station and the demolition (and supposed replacement) of the iconic power station chimneys was the best show in town- Dickens in modern dress that occasionally lapsed into panto. The farce played to a packed house – with the corridors full of (vested?) interested parties straining to hear the proceedings over the PA.

The rather predictable plot- a variation on the turkeys voting for Christmas story -had a committee clearly determined to vote in favour spending three hours going through the massive planning application with just one dissenting voice of reason, played by a rather hammy councillor Tony Belton, pointing out the blindingly obvious flaws and unfeasibility of the scheme.

The real drama and humour lay in the fact that the committee seemed oblivious to the subplot- that the developers, REO (Treasury Holdings UK), are massively in “toxic” debt and in effect owned by the Irish tax payers via  NAMA and will do nothing but continue to demolish what little is left on the site and then “flip it”- selling it on as an empty brown field site for river front luxury development.

REO were unlucky that when the music of the property boom stopped they were left without a chair, but lucky enough to have their biggest non-Irish asset located in Wandsworth, infamous for having allowed the power station to fall into its current state of near dilapidation and for waving through truly hideous and desolate riverside developments.

There was something distasteful in the pathos of the affable officer’s naive presentation of the nonsensical scheme as from the public gallery hard nosed and cash hungry developers salivated at the easy meal they were shortly to enjoy.

There were comic moments as the “power dressed” committee members seemed to be made up of people who were in thrall to the promised dream of capitalism but had no clue about business. They dismissed the very real credibility gaps in the developers “vision”, enthusiastically hanging the whole wobbly edifice on the “promise” that these mega debtors (or at least Irish toxic debt vehicle NAMA) would stump up over 200 million pounds for the Northern Line Extension, or as it is known locally the “Ghost train to nowhere”. Even if this phantom train ride were real it would not happen for years even if it all went to plan… it was an evening of “even ifs”.

One comedic highlight was the officer’s report on the stringent “conditions” the council had negotiated with the Developers.

REO could take down the chimneys but must replace within 7 years.

REO could remove the embarrassing sight of the wharf cranes they are letting rot and could “restore” them inside the hulk of the rotting power station.

REO could first develop a slither of land on the north west river front. Happily the piece of land with most instant resale value, being the furthest from the smelly and polluting waste transfer facility on the north east water edge of the site and the cluster of huge gas holders on the south west edge, deemed by the HSE to be enough of a potential danger to society they recommended the scheme was rejected. This danger of an inferno seemed not to trouble the committee who dismissed the HSE’s concerns. One councillor mocked it as health and safety gone mad as residents of the later phases of the development nearer the potential blast would have chosen to buy their luxury flats aware of the risk.

They also swallowed, uncritically, the completely spurious argument for knocking down the grade II listed Victorian pumping station on the grounds it was a “community benefit” in order to “save” the power station apparently achieved by destroying its architectural value by knocking windows all along its sides and turning it into a shopping mall with luxury flats.

All of the responsibilities and commitments of REO were locked into phases of the development projected way into the future. As REO have no real intention, or means, to “deliver” these planning pipe dreams they were in effect getting off Scot free. The only thing the planning committee’s decisions would guarantee were the demolitions.

The press has been full of the glossy artists impressions of this bright new future but actually it is a dark day for most Battersea residents as this scheme will deliver nothing but another decade of planning blight. A bleak future without two of the regions most precious and best loved buildings.

The optimists had to accept that even if the Power Station were to survive this scheme it could not actually be seen from anywhere in the borough once surrounded by the 15+ storey buildings REO planned.

Given the power station is Wandsworth Borough council’s logo it was indeed a turkey landslide vote for every day being christmas.

BabyLonDon’s Final Verdict: Funny but sad. Not an “An absolute triumph”

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Battersea Power Station demolition by stealth gets council go ahead

Tonight, with only one vote against, the London Borough of Wandsworth’s Planning Committee gave the green light for the demolition by stealth of Battersea Power Station by approving the chimneys are removed and (maybe?) replaced and the total destruction of the Victorian Pumping Station as predicted. Condemning north Battersea to another 15 years of urban blight.  But take heart there are still many rivers to cross (for the developers) and many opportunities along the way for us to propose more imaginative uses and to prove that urban planning by speculation is not viable or in the public interest.

For a full report read the review by Spectacle’s theatre critic BabyLonDon

“An absolute triumph”

Coming soon… details of our photographic competition: Soon to be Lost Views of Battersea Power Station

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Battersea Power Station chimney and Pump Station demolition meeting

Wandsworth Council’s Planning Applications Committee will (almost certainly) decide to give the go-ahead for the demolition of the chimneys at Battersea Power Station and the listed  grade II Victorian Water Pumping Station despite widespread and expert objection. The meeting is at the

Wandsworth Town Hall Thursday 11th November 7pm

(Please note the earlier than usual start time)

The Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London
SW18 2PU

Go to Details and reports for more info and to download the reports online the application number 1 is 2009/3575, No 4, 2009/3676 demolition of chimneys etc, no 3, 2009/3577, no 4, 2009/3578 Demolition of Water Pumping station.

Brian Barnes MBE, Chair of Battersea Power Station Community Group,  has issued a press release on behalf of the BPSCG:

If it were ever built, the Power station would be obscured by massive blocks of luxury flats and hotels. The Power Station will be altered with changes that will spoil the Grade 2* listed building with windows in the side walls, 1950s control room dismantled, new false ceilings in the main turbine hall, pods for penthouses covering the roofs and chimneys demolished and replaced by replicas (as if). Out of 3700 flats, only about 500 to be part buy/part let (so called “affordable”). The Grade 2 listed Battersea Water Pumping Station will be destroyed completely “in the public’s interest”. Any gain of public open space is unusable as it will be lakes and moats to reflect views of Power Station, as if there isn’t enough water with the Thames flowing past…

You can read the full press release here www.batterseapowerstation.org.uk

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See more of Spectacle’s Photos of Battersea Power Station

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Battersea Forum Q&A Available to Watch

On Wednesday 31s March the DRCA Community Centre hosted the presentation of REO / Treasury Holdings‘ planning application for Battersea Power Station.

As part of our ongoing Battersea Power Station project, we have edited together the charged question and answer session between the planning director, Jeremy Castle, and members of the local community which you can watch on our Battersea Power Station archive. Topics raised included affordable housing, schools, parking, fencing and the iconic chimneys.

The current plan, which you can read more about at our Battersea Power Station blog, includes the construction of 3,700 luxury flats, a riverside park, a hotel, and a new tube station surrounding the Grade II* listed Power Station which could itself become a retail centre. Wandsworth Council are set to make a decision in July.

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Battersea Power Station Community Group’s Objection letter

Below is Battersea Power Station Community Group’s objection to the planning applications.

You might find this useful reference when making your objections. The deadline for objections is 31 January. Please try and register your objection.

Battersea Power Station Community Group

16 DRCA Charlotte Despard Avenue

London SW11 5HD

Mr Bob Leuty

Planning Department

Wandsworth Town Hall

High Street

London SW18 2PU

26th January 2010

You Ref: 2009/3575/3576/3578

Dear Mr Leuty

I am writing to add comments to my original objection about Battersea Power Station and Battersea Water Pumping Station and the surrounding land.

Development of the surrounding land will be far too dense and completely obscure Battersea Power Station from views from the south of the building, especially by the application for all of the residential blocks around the Power Station being planned for up to 56 metres in height.

The buildings have the real effect of crowding the Power Station and not allowing the listed building the dignity of protected views. Battersea park road / Nine Elms Lane and Queenstown Road will be blocked off by the high buildings.

None of these buildings should be higher than the parapet of the Switch Houses of Turbine Halls A & B.

Views from the railway into Victoria Station will be obscured.

There is no indication about the percentage of homes that will be “affordable” We propose that this figure should be 50%.

The development is so dense with over 3000 flats that it is pure greed that there are plans to build more flats as penthouses on the Boiler House and Switch Houses. This adds further insult to the Listed Grade II* building one of the top landmarks of London. We oppose the development of structures and extensions connected to the building to provide accommodation which will ruin the silhouette of the building

The proposal for a roof top swimming pool was only ever to divert criticism from the plan to build the original, monstrous, Vinoly tower. For this to be given credibility will show the whole scheme to be discredited.

All water features are on the land are irrelevant. The Thames flows past and Battersea Park has extensive lakes. The water just serves to make the land unusable by people who might want a place to walk and sit and the water further restricts movement around the site because most of the gardens will be denied to the public as they will be private gardens for the residents.

There should be public open space/park equivalent to the open space/park on the Riverside on the south side of the power station.

The Battersea Water Pumping Station should not be demolished. It is Grade II listed, older than the power station 1860 and a unique example of the London Water supply with the Largest Cornish engine ever built (no longer existing) The Pumping Station is a compliment to the Power Station.

Nearby are the railway arches used by A.V. Roe to build the Bulldog plane, the first plane to fly, and the gasworks where balloon flight became the prelude to powered flight. It is a shame that this industrial heritage is not protected because there is the same relevance as the Iron Bridge museum right here in Battersea.

The Water Pumping Station should have the protection of a condition that it can only be demolished when the detailed plans for new buildings are approved and there is a contract in place to build the new building on the site of the Pumping Station.

The riverside walk should be built as soon as it is possible to do so.

Battersea Power Station Chimneys

The report by Stuart Tappin and George Ballard shows that the chimneys can be repaired and that the proposal to demolish is not proved. Don Bianco of English Heritage agrees that the chimneys should not be demolished. Mr Bianco is the EH inspector who regularly checked the building every six months and abseiled from the top outside and inside the chimneys.

The previous owners claimed to have entered into an irrevocable letter of credit that guaranteed the funds to rebuild the chimneys in the event that they were unable to do the rebuilding. Parkview promptly left and there was no evidence that such a document existed.. Without this guarantee of sufficient funds from the current owners we believe that once the chimneys are demolished they will never be rebuilt leading to the eventual demolition of all of the building to be replaced by luxury flats.

Internally the proposal to remove to the switch gear in Annex B to a new location is opposed and should be kept in the original location with Control Rooms A & B open free to the public.

It appears that the listed status of Grade II* is being ignored by the proposal to create windows in the walls. It is a characteristic of the listing that the large areas of brick are integral to the building and by making more windows the whole effect will be changed to the detriment of the Power Station.

Tube Line

The plans for the tube extension from Kennington are at best confused and at worst “Humbug” as described by the Minister for Transport, Sediq Kahn.

There seems to be 4 different routes proposed but there is no intersection at Vauxhall tube.

Whereas the Waterloo and City Line taken towards Clapham Junction would allow a direct connection between the City and The Junction and reduce the load on Waterloo Station with many passengers seeking to travel in the direction of the Junction.

The Waterloo and City Line could easily reach Vauxhall helping to relieve some crowding on the Victoria Line. It would also relieve crowding on the Main Line and the City branch of the Northern Line, from Waterloo to Clapham Junction and Elephant and Castle to Stockwell.

Historically there have been three routes through SE London proposed as extensions for various lines:-

  1. Through Bricklayer’s Arms and Lewisham to Hayes/Bexleyheath

  2. Through Herne Hill and West Norwood to Crystal Palace and Beckenham

  3. Through Camberwell, Denmark hill and Dulwich to Streatham and Croydon.

The Victoria Line is built to the Crystal Palace alignment and its proposed extension to Herne Hill is along it. The Bakerloo Line was originally built to an alignment towards Bricklayer’s Arms. The Northern Line’s Charing Cross branch naturally faces the Camberwell route.

There are 3 lines and 3 routes for extensions to traverse.

Sendeng the Northern Line to Battersea would remove the future possibility of some part or all of at least one of the above routes through the South East being served.

Finance for the listed buildings

If the buildings were in a development trust they would be eligible for grants from the Sport and Heritage Lottery Funds.

Yours sincerely Brian Barnes MBE

Battersea Power Station Community Group

16 DRCA Charlotte Despard Avenue

London SW11 5HD

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