The Adventure Playground in Battersea Park has been demolished

Despite protest from members of the community the popular Adventure Playground of Battersea has been demolished by Wandsworth council. The demolition can been seen as a part of the gentrification that are being preformed in the area of Battersea power station and nine elms-area.

Members of the community and the organisation Occupy London had since the 5th of January occupied the playground in protest of the planned demolition in hope that the council would change their mind and let them open the playground again. This didn’t stop the council and with arguments that “the old playground had safety and health issues” they decided to ignore the will of the community.

What is even more interesting is that a smaller playground in Wandsworth, Kimber road, was planned to be demolished before the one in Battersea, but the council has yet started the demolition. Why they chosen to postpone this demolition is still unclear, but it might be that they are just waiting for the bad publicity after the demolition of the other playgrounds are over.

The community are now planning to fight for the last standing playground in the council and stop this gentrification to go any further.

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The Wandsworth Council’s propaganda against protesters

Wandsworth Council posted an article claiming that “squatters who were yesterday (Wednesday) evicted from their illegal camp at Battersea Park’s adventure playground have left behind a squalid and disgusting mess”. This is part of their propaganda. More than 4000 signatures were gathered by members of the community who wish to preserve the Battersea Park Adventure Playground, yet their voices are being silenced.

Do not fall for this propaganda. The protesters are members of the public, parents and residents of the area who have spent some of the coldest nights of this winter in a locked site. They fight for their children’s right to enjoy what the Battersea Adventure Playground has offered for them and their generation. Whereas the Council’s intentions are highly arbitrary. They have not offered a valid justification for their actions and they keep ignoring the public’s wishes.

This video was filmed in the very early hours of Wednesday 23 January 2013. It was taken by peaceful protesters occupying the building adjacent to the Battersea Adventure Playground – under Section 6 (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 – and catches the moment when the police potentially illegally enter the occupied building. You can hear a crow bar being used and the smashing up of the window/building.

In our opinion this destruction of public property is not the result of “squatters” but a staged attempt to validate bureaucratic, arbitrary decisions, that have zero consideration for the community’s children.

Sign the petition to save the Battersea Adventure Playground and support the “Wandsworth Against Cuts” organisation.

Also, visit Save Kimber Road and Battersea adventure playgrounds to read about other adventure playgrounds that have been demolished.

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Battersea Park adventure playground occupied to stop demolition

The Battersea Adventure Playground has been the jewel of Battersea Park for more than fifty years. It is located at the South West corner, not far from Battersea Power Station.

Adventure playgrounds offer a unique experience for children and teenagers, as they provide much more than just swings. This type of playgrounds are specifically designed to encourage children to take initiative, use their imagination and be more active during playtime. Staff, volunteers and carers are always present to provide assistance, keep the children safe and organize activities.

In October, Wandsworth Council decided to demolish the popular adventure playground based on various spurious claims regarding health, safety and funds. The community strongly objected and founded the Wandsworth Against Cuts organisation as an answer to the Council’s general attitude. The playground has been occupied since the 5th of January by members of the community as well as activists from the Occupy London organisation:

Battersea Park adventure playground occupied to stop demolition

Yesterday, the police succeeded in evicting some of the occupants, but not all of them. The protest against the Council’s decisions has not been silenced yet and you can show your support by signing the petition. This demolition of the adventure playground for “safety” reasons seems to be part of a gentrification ripple effect starting from Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms area.

Wandsworth Council insist cuts are necessary but claims it is spending £200,000 replacing the demolished adventure playground with standard play equipment.

Visit Save Kimber Road and Battersea adventure playgrounds to read about other adventure playgrounds that have been demolished.

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Save Kimber Road and Battersea adventure playgrounds

Wandsworth Against the Cuts has opened an online petititon to the Government to avoid the closure of Kimber Road and Battersea Park playgrounds. As York Gardens Playground has been recently flattened by builders they believe Kimber Road could be torn down as early as this Friday and Battersea soon after.

Campaigners claim that the closure of the adventure playgrounds will deprive children and young teenagers of things to do on these areas.

Visit Wandsworth Against the Cuts website for ways to try and prevent this happening.

It seems that Malaysian owners Sime Darby´s plans for the regeneration of the Battersea Power Station does not include any playground areas among these 3.400 homes, 2 hotels and dozens of shops and restaurants.

It would be a very good idea if part of (a publicly owned) Battersea Power Station were to be designated a huge public adventure playground for the joy of all the children of the area. But it is clear Wandsworth Council does not see providing for children as important as helping to enrich property developers by sanctioning the building of DINKy (Double Income No Kids- yet) Ghettos.

Check this video out for more information about this story.

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Keith Garner on Rob Tincknell

Keith Garner, local architect and member of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, has laid out a tyraid of questions to the chief executive of the Battersea Power Station Development Company, Rob Tincknell.

In an article described as ‘sycophantic and uncritical’ by Garner, Tincknell answered a series of questions about his involvement with the new plans for the regeneration of Battersea Power Station.

Garner responded strongly to the article, posing probing questions that still need answering. For example;

Why did Treasury Holdings not complete any substantive work in the five years they owned Battersea Power Station between 2006 and 2011, when you were in charge?

Why is the river walk connecting to Battersea Park still not built when your colleagues at Treasury Holdings promised at a meeting in 2011 that this would be done?

Why are you currently carrying out a “public consultation”, when it is clear that you have no intention of responding to any of the concerns raised?

The list ended with Garner asking, ‘Perhaps you would put some of these questions to Rob Tincknell as well?’

We can’t see the Architects Journal being so bold, but are keen to have these questions answered ourselves.

If you have any questions you want answering, let us know and we’ll try to pose them to the companies behind Battersea.

You can read the article itself, and Keith’s full response here, http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/daily-news/rob-tincknell-committed-to-battersea/8635755.article

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Brian Barnes Skeptical of Latest Battersea Plans

Brian Barnes has publicly said that he’s continually doubtful of the new plans set out by Sime Darby to regenerate Battersea Power Station.

Barnes, the driving force behind the Battersea Power Station Community Group that he begun 29 years ago, has seen many plans come and go in his time and is sure the recent proposal from the Malaysian giant will be just another in a long list of failed plans.

He has also criticised the plans for not having enough affordable housing, claiming that no-one from the local area will be able to afford to live there, especially young people looking to get onto the property ladder.

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Battersea Plans Unveiled

Sime Darby have released their plans for their regeneration of Battersea Power Station. This Friday (14th) 10:00am-6:00pm and Saturday (15th) 10:00am-4:00pm will see an exhibition of these plans at the Consultation Suite, Battersea Power Station (Gate 2).

These plans have been reported to involve the demolition of the chimneys, and replicas being constructed as the degredation of the current structures is said to be too much to allow a conservation effort.

Around 3,400 homes, including 500 classified as “affordable” will be built on the 29-acre site, as well as two hotels, 160,000 sq ft of offices and dozens of shops and restaurants in a new “high street”. This work is part of their 12-year development project, with a park and walkway projected for completion as early as next April.

Visit www.batterseapowerstation.co.uk for more information.
Email powerstation@batterseasociety.org.uk with your thoughts on the proposed plans.

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Battersea Power Station Estimated Construction Facts

The Malaysian consortium, the new owners of Battersea Power Station,  has announced in a press release that the regeneration of Battersea Power Station is estimated to cost £6-8bn. This news has spread across the media as the project is set to create 20,000 construction jobs as well as 13,000 permanent jobs. Also it is announced that the project will create 3,500 homes.

On the surface this announcement sounds like a good deal, but  how many of the homes will actually be ‘affordable’, the London plan requires 50%, and for how long will the 20,000 construction workers be employed? It is possible that some of these jobs will only last a few weeks.

Local people have heard this all before.

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Battersea Power Station – Sale agreed but not signed

According to a source in English Heritage, the Malaysian consortium (Sime Darby, SP Setia and Employees Provident Fund) who have agreed to buy Battersea Power Station have not actually signed the contract – so it is not too late to change their minds.

 

One of the iconic images of the power station - Pink Floyd's Animals

 

A recent announcement of a predicted 30% fall in the London property prices is just one of the reasons why the consortium and it’s shareholders may want to think again.

Reading the Asian press, it doesn’t seem like the consortium, or at least their shareholders, actually realise the costs, limitations and responsibilities involved in buying a grade II listed building.

Press release articles surrounding the sale refer vaguely to ‘possible preservation‘ of the power station, with talk of merely ‘motivator profit‘ and also of the potential of a ‘400m river front‘ that seems to completely ignore the power station itself, and indeed the smelly waste disposal unit situated directly on the river front in question.

The power station features heavily in London’s iconography, recently throughout the London 2012 Olympics with James Bond and Her Majesty taking a flight over it in the Opening Ceremony, and also it features as one of the ‘London Landmarks’ . Hopefully this renewed pride of Londoners will force English Heritage to awake from it’s slumber and move into action insisting on repairs to Battersea Power Station, which could potentially be extremely expensive.

 

 

Nick Cuff, chairman of Planning at Wandsworth Borough Council spoke at the Future of Battersea event (Southbank University, 26th July), claiming that the Northern Line extension would probably not be funded by the developer but by central Government as part of its infrastructure investment programme. Interestingly, the major reason cited by REO (the previous developers) for having significantly less than the required 50% affordable housing was precisely because they were having to contribute to the tube line extension. So SP Setia and Sime Darby need to factor in the 50% affordable housing into their new development plans.

It has also been reported that the consortium will adopt the Vinoly plan, but this does not seem to make sense. Why would they take on such an implausible and previously failed scheme? The greedy and expensive Vinoly plan justified being so densely developed in order to recoup the costs of transport infrastructure – so that too can be challenged if the taxpayer is expected to foot the Northern Line extension costs.

So despite the attempts by Wandsworth Borough Council to present the change of ownership as a seamless continuation of the old Battersea Power Station development started by REO in fact everything is up for grabs again. The new owners and their share holders could find themselves with a completely unviable scheme and a PR disaster. Crassly developing or neglecting this much loved building could result in the new owners being the most despised developers in London.

Its not too late for the consortium to change their mind. Their share holders should be asking- do they know what they have let themselves in for?

 

 

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

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