Memories of Battersea: Jean

Spectacle has undergone a new project, exploring oral history in our beloved Battersea neighborhood, through short videos shot during our training courses.

In Memories of Battersea we start with Jean, a Wandsworth born survivor of the Second World War. Jean recounts for us what life was like living through the German bombardment of V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets, her evacuation spent in Oxfordshire as a child, what has become of her first home in Savona Street as well how she feels about new development in the Battersea area.

Jean grew up in Wandsworth Borough as a child during the Second World War. Losing family members and friends, Jean tells us about the bombardment on London by V-1 flying bombs. Although only a small child, such terrible times have remained with Jean for her entire life.

After life became too dangerous for people in Battersea as a result of the bombing, she was evacuated to the village Grendon Underwood in Oxfordshire. There she was cared for by a couple in a large rectory with many others from London. Jean’s safety was short-lived however when upon her return to Battersea, the German V-2 rockets began, knocking a Church down nearby.

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A still of Jean from her interview

Although Jean and her mother survived the war at home, the same could sadly not be said for her father whom was called up to fight. As many families celebrated in the streets of London, marking the end of WWII at by holding street parties called ‘Peace Teas’, Jean’s family alongside many others would never see their loved ones return from the field.

Now living in Carey Gardens near The Patmore Estate, Jean has witnessed a dramatic change in the area. No longer Savona Street, Jean’s old home has become part of what is now known as Savona Estate. More worrying for Jean however, there are now plans to build a large number of flats on the estate, a building much taller than those surrounding it including Carey Gardens.

Jean worries that these new flats may attract a different demographic of people, which wouldn’t suit the friendly nature of her beloved estate. This film was shot by participants on Spectacle’s 4 day training course.

Watch the full film here

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Do you have a view of Battersea Power Station?

Battersea Power Station

Do you have a view of Battersea Power Station from your flat window or balcony? We are looking for views of #BatterseaPowerStation for our film for the World Monument Fund.  As you may know the Battersea Power Station development means that many iconic views of the Power Station will be lost as the power station is surrounded by tall residential blocks. We are interested to get some shots of these views before they are gone so if you can help in any way please get in touch with Mark or Emily at bps@spectacle.co.uk

We would also like to hear from you if you have any stories about how the power station, past or present, has had an impact on your life.

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Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Mainstream media on Battersea Power Station’s financial and social unsustainability

Battersea Power Station, since the end of 2014, has been standing wounded with only three chimneys left, and we have not yet seen any sign that the Battersea Power Station Development Company is starting the rebuilding work on the SW chimney.

View from Battersea Park Station, taken by Spectacle on 23/02/2015

Battersea Power Station from Battersea Park Station. Image taken by Spectacle on 23/02/2015

Meanwhile, some of our worries about the social impact and the financial viability of the whole project have been shared by a number of different analysts.

For instance, our concerns about the financial viability of Big Bang Development grow stronger as main-stream financial newspapers, such as Bloomberg, have highlighted that after the positive performances of recent years, London’s house prices have now started going down.  Bloomberg states, in a recent article, that “prices in emerging prime London fell 2 percent in the final quarter of 2014, according to Douglas & Gordon” and that “the area, which includes the Nine Elms neighborhood, was the worst performer in “emerging prime” London last year, broker Douglas & Gordon Ltd. said”. “Overseas demand for prime London homes is cooling, and some upscale projects being marketed “have gone over to Asia and probably haven’t done as well as they would have” in early 2014” quoting Jack Simmons, head of U.K. residential development and investment at broker Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

This alarming report, suggesting that the degrading value of houses might scare investors and threaten the financial plan of big projects such as the one by Battersea Power Station Development Company, was corroborated in an article by The Telegraph. The Telegraph reports that properties in the Nine Elms area are already flipped, thrown on the market to make some gains, before even a single brick of the flats has been put in place. This circumstance seem to confirm our impressions, sharing with The Telegraph’s journalist the “concern that homes built in the early phase of the huge project, were mainly reserved by investors – who have waited for the market to pick up before “flipping” them – and overseas buyers”. Instead of sounding an alarm in the heads of Battersea Power Station Development Company, the same article tells us that a spokeswoman for the company said: “We launched phase one at Battersea Power Station over two years ago and we are pleased to see that the early pioneer purchasers, who helped to get this project off the ground have experienced good levels of growth”.

If fluctuations of the property market could turn investors away, the new strength of British Sterling on the foreign exchange market could cause even more troubles to South Asian Buyers. The Star, one of the most popular Malaysian news sites, published a page explaining how to deal with loans in foreign currencies to prevent investments, such as a flat in Battersea Power Station, turning disastrous by weaker local currencies.

Rahim & Co consultant, marketing (London properties), Guy Major says “It is ‘dangerous’ to have a mismatch between your ability to pay based in ringgit and a pound-denominated loan,” he says.

If our concerns about the finances of the project are aimed at putting question marks over the narrative used by big bang developers to sell their projects, other media apparently started sharing our worries about the social impact of this monster development. The Guardian came out recently with a long and quite critical article about Battersea Power Station, “the biggest building site in London, and one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe”. Significantly titling the article “Battersea is part of a huge building project – but not for Londoners”, the Guardian highlights the tendency of new developments in London to get higher – “Hong Kongification” as Tony Travers, director of the Greater London group at the London School of Economics, puts it.

The Guardian quotes Ravi Govindia, the Conservative leader of Wandsworth council  “Yes, some of the buildings will be tall, but there will be a distinctly London flavour. It’s going to be a place that people [will] enjoy living in.” Govindia says, adding that the project “will bring 25,000 permanent jobs plus 20,000 construction and engineering jobs during the building phase”), the article warns that building luxury flats for wealthy foreign buyers is exacerbating the housing problem for thousands of Londoners in need of homes.

On the other hand, Will Martindale, Labour MP candidate for Battersea, in a blog posted on The Huffington Post, shared his concerns (and some of his neighbor’s) about the way Battersea is changing: property prizes going well beyond local people’s budgets, riverfront views are blocked by multi-story buildings and very few new flats will eventually house locals while oversea investors and developers will make a fortune. As Will Martindale says “This is our riverfront. It’s part of our shared heritage, not simply a strip of real estate. We would do well to remember Battersea Council’s old motto: Not for you, not for me, but for us.”

At the moment, our impression is that it’s becoming ever more theirs…

 

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World monuments fund watch day 2014: Nine Elms architectural walk.

Spectacle took part in the Nine Elms architectural walk – part of the World Monuments Fund Watch day 2014. Here is a short edit of the event.

The watch day was launched by World Monuments Fund in 2012 to provide an opportunity for people to engage with their local communities and deepen their knowledge of local historic sites. The walk itinerary included Vauxhall and Nine Elms areas looking at sites such as the listed Brunswick House, Convent Garden Flower Market, Tideway Village riverboat community, Battersea Power Station, Battersea Dogs Home, the gas holder site and Battersea Park railway station.   The walk was lead by Colin Thom of the Survey of London and had contributions from David Waterhouse (Tideway Village riverboat community), Stuart Tappin (Structural engineer), Brian Barnes (artist and founder member of Battersea Power Station Community group)  and Keith Garner (architect).

Group photo in front of the Battersea Power Station during the World Monuments Fund Watch Day 2014

Group photo in front of the Battersea Power Station during the World Monuments Fund Watch Day 2014

 

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Oberhausen ‘Gasometer’ as an example for alternative use of Battersea gasholder

Battersea’s ‘listed’ gasholders are being demolished to make way for new homes, shops and business space. Wandsworth council approved the demolition of this and three other adjacent gasholders in Battersea in January 2013, as part of the regeneration of Nine Elms.

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The Evening Standard reported the following on this:

”Objectors say that alternative uses for the site should be examined. Architect Keith Garner says: “In the German city of Oberhausen, there is a gasholder with the same features and it has been transformed into a museum and a centre for art.”

The Gasometer in Oberhausen, Germany, is a former gas holder which has been converted into an exhibition space. It has hosted several large scale exhibitions, including two by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The Gasometer is an industrial landmark, and an anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage and the Industrial Heritage Trail.

In 1992 the city council of Oberhausen, with a margin of 1 vote decided to acquire the gasholder, gasometer in German, and convert it to an exhibition space. At the time, plans were being developed for building CentrO on an adjacent plot, and IBA Emscher Park planned to use the Gasometer for its exhibition. Ownership transferred to the city of Oberhausen, with Ruhrkohle AG paying 1.8 million DM in saved demolition costs to the city.

gas

Hopefully the owners of the Battersea site will reconsider the usage of the gasholders for a similar purpose. Unfortunately, work (on the Prince of Wales Drive) has already began on tearing the disused holders down and they are planned to be gone by the end of 2014.  The owners have planning permission to demolish the listed Victorian Pump House at any time.

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For more on Christo and Jeanne-Claude. visit Artsy Christo page

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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.

battersea_power_station_bljfinancial0906091

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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London Evening Standard loves the future outlook of a wrecked Battersea Power Station

To start with, a few months ago the London Evening Standard proudly presented their collaboration with the owners of the Battersea Power Station on the ‘The Power 1000 – London’s most influential people 2013‘.

BPSeveningstandardpower1000_1

The endangered building was used as a backdrop for the party, no one seemed to be scared of the chimneys collapsing on them, even though the Standard had previously reported that they must be unsafe. The uncritical, back slapping love-in was topped with speeches from Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Sarah Sands, Evening Standard Editor and Rob Tincknell,  Battersea Power Station chief executive.

And in the 13th November edition about ‘Battersea’s rebirth’ they enthusiastically trumpet the ‘creation of a completely new district where none existed before’.

Wandsworth Tory Leader Ravi Govindia claimed the area will “change faster and more dramatically than any other part of London”- perhaps but maybe not for the better.

As is their custom the owners of Battersea Power Station attempted to deflect the mounting criticism of their plans to demolish the chimneys by wheeling out their gimmicky use of the top of the chimneys, this time not for a single table restaurant, but a viewing platform.

A double page free puff for the Battersea Power Station project:

BPSeveningstandardFULL

Don’t expect the Evening Standard to be digging too deep, or indeed reporting at all, on the controversies surrounding the Power Station demolitions.

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New playground in Battersea Park

Demolished adventure playground

The adventure playground in Battersea park has now been demolished for three month. Before the demolition Wandsworth council claimed that the One O Clock club had to be closed because of the protesters, but is now going to be opened as a cafe instead.

The rebuilding of the playground has started and the main part is for younger children. There will be a part aimed for older children, but to access this part you need to pay.

So is this new playground really going to be better and safer then the last one? It will probably be safer in the sense that less people are going to be able to enjoy themselves at the playground. And is it really okay to put an age limit on having fun and play and excluding older kids by forcing them to pay? Should it not be free for all or is this part, made for older children, really going to be such a magical place that is worth paying for?

Of course it is just another depressing aspect of the gentrification, privatisation and commodification of the Battersea / Nine Elms area.

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The Demolition of the Adventure Playground in Battersea Park

We wrote on the blog yesterday that the Adventure Playground in Battersea Park has now been demolished. Wandsworth council took the decision to destroy the playground despite protests from members of the community.

The council claims that the old playground must close on health and safety ground and that a new and more safe playground will be built soon. The new playground will no longer have staff around to make sure that all children are safe, and it is supposed to be much cheaper than the old one. If the new playground is ever built is still in question, but we are sure that the demolition of the old playground is a part of a gentrification ripple effect starting from Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms developments.

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