Pink Floyd fans witness redevelopment failure of the Battersea Power Station 35 years later

A pig is flying over the Battersea Power Station, London again, 35 years after it flew there for the first time in 1977. On both occasions Pink Floyd released the albums with the floating pig shot on the covers, and even though the musicians did not attend the events in person, they once again brought desirable publicity to the derelict station.

The two covers, Animals in the past and Why Pink Floyd…? today,  can be easily confused, as this landmark site looks exactly the same as 35 years ago. This is in spite of the owners constant promises to renovate the station and “create an entirely new district for London“. The current development proposal aims to create the first zero carbon office space in Central London, “a stunning event space”, the river walk section, a green energy plant and a conference centre etc.

However, so far the inflatable pig is probably the only “cultural” mark at the station site, despite the cultural rejuvenation plans proudly announced on the Battersea Power Station Website . The power station has been unused since its closure in 1982, and is gradually falling to the ruin. In consequence, English Heritage described the conditions at the place as “very bad”, and included it on the Buildings at Risk Register.

The current owners,  Treasury Holdings, struggle to make the ends meet due to the Irish banking crisis. This might force the company to sell the station to another private developer willing to face those financial challenges, which the previous three owners failed to cope with. Further information can be found on the Spectacle’s Blog.

Perhaps real pigs will start flying sooner than the actual redevelopment will finally begin.

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Local community want to Purchase Battersea Water Pumping Station

Owners of Battersea Power Station, Treasury Holdings/ REO, have submitted an application (ref 2009/3578) to demolish Grade II listed Battersea Water Pumping Station.  Battersea Power Station Company, a not for profit local organisation set up by members of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, have sent Treasury Holdings/ REO a letter expressing an interest in purchasing the building for local community and heritage use

A copy of the letter can be seen below, if you support this letter please comment below and directly to Wandsworth Borough Planning department

8th June  2010

Mr Jeremy Castle
Treasury Holdings
Battersea Power Station
Kirtling Street
London SW8

“Dear Jeremy,

BATTERSEA WATER PUMPING STATION

I am writing concerning your application submitted last year for listed building consent (ref 2009/3578) to demolish Battersea Water Pumping Station.

Members of Battersea Power Station Community Group set up this company in 2002 as a not for profit organisation to carry out useful work in the Queenstown ward, one of the most socially disadvantaged areas of the London Borough of Wandsworth. The company has broad objectives, including: “The preservation of buildings or sites of historic, architectural or industrial importance, in particular Battersea Power Station and Battersea Water Pumping Station”.

In pursuit of this objective, we wrote to Wandsworth Council in January to object to your application. (Our letter of 19th January.) We have also written to English Heritage. We don’t know the outcome of Wandsworth and English Heritage’s deliberations at this stage.

In considering this application however, both organisations will have to take account of government guidance on demolition containing in the new Planning Policy Statement 5. As you know PPS 5 includes guidance for situations where the loss of a “heritage asset” is proposed. This is contained in paragraphs HE9.1 to HE 9.5, requiring alternative uses to be considered, and for charitable or public ownership to be considered as well.

Paragraph HE 9.3 specifically says “… local planning authorities should require the applicant to provide evidence that other potential users have been sought through appropriate marketing and that reasonable endeavours have been made to seek grant funding for the heritage asset’s conservation and to find charitable or public authorities willing to take on the heritage asset.”.

To assist you in this process therefore, we confirm that we do wish to acquire Battersea Water Pumping Station from you. We are willing to raise funds to repair the building, using the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other local sources. Indeed on 10th May, BPSCG members attended a seminar at the HLF about funding for Industrial, Maritime and Transport Heritage projects in London.

We saw in our recent visit to the Pumping Station on 11th March (which you kindly arranged for us) that the brick structure of the building is fundamentally sound. The building is eminently reusable in any number of socially productive ways, that would far outweigh the nominal benefits of building another hotel, office building, or shopping mall on this area of the site.

Clearly there have been years of neglect. The guidance note accompanying PPS 5 (paragraph 96) is clear that the purchase price should be reduced to take account of a backlog of any repairs. We are therefore wiling to take the building from you for a sum of £1. We would also ask for a small donation from you to assist with emergency repairs, and to serve as matched funding in any approach to funding bodies.

We also consider that the narrow strip of land extending from the pumping station to the river should stay with the pumping station to facilitate river related use such as a boat house. The building was separately owned by the water board until the 1980’s on a plot of land with a river frontage. We feel that building and its site should be preserved intact. This strip is at the north east corner of your site and we don’t see that its forfeiture would in be to the detriment of your wider plans. Indeed, it could serve as a useful buffer between your site and the refuse transfer station.

Aside for the inherent industrial and historic importance of the building, that overwhelmingly justifies its retention, there are many social benefits to our company taking over this building. For instance in enabling people from the estates on the south side of Battersea Park Road to take part in river related activity of all kinds.

Clearly bringing this building back into use on the short to medium term will also give positive signals about the viability of the site as a whole to potential investors. They will see that things are actually happening, rather than the procrastination and delay which has become the norm. This can only be in your interest as well.

I hope you find the foregoing of interest. Perhaps we discuss this proposal in more detail when we meet on 14th June, which I am very much looking forward to.”

Yours sincerely,

Keith Garner
Director

Click Battersea Power Station for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Battersea Power Station project pages for more information and videos.

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