Chimneys standing firm

REO continue to shoot themselves in the – what by now must be, given their perilously brittle financial circumstances, bare – feet. Their persistent corporate prostitution of the inner sanctuary of the Battersea Power Station (for yous philistines who don’t know is now renamed THE BOILER ROOM) rips away any last layer of credibility from the assertion that the iconic chimneys of Battersea Power Station should be demolished for safety reasons.

Photo taken from beyond the danger zone

This declaration is a major part of REO’s planning application, stating that the chimneys are monstrously dangerous actually, given that they could fall down imminently. This is the reason, according to Planning Director of REO and Treasury Holdings Jeremy Castle, that there is a strict thirty metre exclusion zone around each of the chimneys at each event. Quite how they maintain this INSIDE the structure of the power station is a mystery.

What undermines these claims is that there have been a slew of conferences, dinners and even large scale events in and around the power station throughout the year; from the recent Red Bull X-Fighter Motorcross event to the upcoming SHINE benefit dinner in November (where a canopy and walkway to access The Boiler Room will be constructed for guests). These events, inclusive of the Paul McCartney gig inside the station back in July, would not be permitted to take place if there was any truth to these safety concerns, so this fallacy of collapsing chimneys is but a clever marketing shoehorn to strengthen the application process. Which ironically of course, will be slowed down to increase the value of the land if the application is accepted.

This flagrant contradiction only adds to the  controversy surrounding REO, given that they are over a billion in debt, unable to pay interest to creditors, heavily criticised by heritage institutions such as the Victorian Society, Kew Bridge Engine Trust and the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, and planning an unwanted underground line extension. The current plans for the station, which you can read more about on our Spectacle Battersea Blog, also include planning requests for an office and leisure complex, riverside access, a hotel, and 3,700 luxury flats.

To send in a written objection to the plans to demolish the station and its neighbouring Grade II* listed sister pumping house, address it to Bob Leuty at Wandsworth Council, planning . The deadline for written objections is 5pm tomorrow (30th September), and you can also contact your Wandsworth Councillor and ask them what their view is on this before deciding how to vote.

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The Victorian Society’s Objection Letter

The Victorian Society’s Objection Letter to the Battersea Power Station Planning Application.

Battersea Water Pumping Station, Cringle Street, Battersea: Application for Listed Building Consent for demolition (Grade II, 1840 & 1860)

The Victorian Society is one of many to write an objection letter in relation to the recent plans to demolish the former water pumping station at the Battersea Power Station.

The letter outlined the reasons behind the ‘strong objection’ of the Society towards the plan.

The Society highlights the water pumping station, as ‘an important historic building, the significance of which cannot be adequately appreciated once dispersed on and off the development site.’

The Society feels the applicants (with the exception of the Power Station) have approached the site as a ‘blank canvas,’  with no consideration that the pump station will be saved. The application states that the plans, ‘would bring substantial benefits for the community.’ The Victorian Society points out that there is nothing, ‘in the application to show that the same public benefit could not be brought about if the pumping station were incorporated within the new development.’

The letter also outlined, ‘The Battersea Power Station Company is a trust established in 2002.  One of its objectives is the preservation of the pumping station.  The company achieved charitable status in 2005.  They would be happy to take ownership of the building if the owner no longer requires it.  They would be happy to raise funds to repair the building.’

The closing statement of the Society ‘s Objection Letter:

‘We urge your Council to refuse Listed Building Consent for the demolition of the pumping station.  The applicant should develop a scheme that takes account of the significance of the whole site and all the listed buildings within it, not just the power station.’

The Victorian Society’s Objection Letter is just one example of many objection to the plans to demolish the water pumping station.

To read the full Objection Letter, click here and use the reference 2010/01/012.

For further information on the planning application and to read further objections click here

Read other planning applications by clicking here and using application numbers; 2009/3575, 2009/2576, 2009/3577.

Watch footage from the Power Station on Spectacle’s Archive Page

Learn about Spectacle’s Battersea Power Station Project by visiting Spectacle’s Project Page