Battersea Power Station chimneys will fall in high wind, claim REO

Visit Battersea Power Station for some top notch entertainment… except on a windy day, when you’ll get a little more than you bargained for…

Battersea Power Station’s impressive resume as an event venue has spanned across all walks of entertainment categories, from live music concerts to Hollywood movie sets. However,  Battersea’s owners, Real Estate Opportunities (REO),  have recently announced that the station’s four chimneys are dangerously close to toppling and need demolishing.

But if you think that this health and safety nightmare is going to prevent REO and Wandsworth Borough Council from inviting thousands of members of the public into the Grade II* listed building, think again. The next few months entertainment seems bigger than ever.

For instance, this October the Relentless Freeze Festival- the UK’s only snow, ski and music festival- returns to Battersea Power Station.
Here, athletes across skiing and snowboarding will compete on a 32 metres high jump constructed within the power station, complete with 500 tonnes of real snow. As competitors pound the slopes, 4 live stages will host a handful of loud music acts to an audience of up to 40,000.

The station has also been used for the Red Bull X-Fighter season, the world’s biggest Freestyle motocross championships. This November, X-Fighter is likely to attract 30,000 adrenaline junkies wishing to witness the high-octane showdown.

But it was only last Saturday that Richard Barrett, one of the co-founders of Treasury Holdings (which has a majority stake in REO), spoke to Reuters about their chimney conundrum:

“One day (if) there is a high wind there one of them is going to come down so it’s better off you take them down and put them back up so that can’t happen”

“All four of them will have to be taken down and rebuilt,” Barrett said in the interview on the sidelines of an economic forum in Dublin, “They are basically un-reinforced concrete.”

Since 2010, REO has spent nearly half a million pounds surveying and trial-repairing the four chimneys, with the rather predictable conclusion from their surveyors being that they are in “worryingly poor condition”.

Campaigners against REO’s proposals claim that plans to demolish and rebuild the chimneys- at a cost of £12m- may be the beginning of plans to eventually destroy the entire building.

A report opposing REO’s claim, collaborated in 2005 by the World Monument Fund, the Twentieth Century Society and the Battersea Power Station Company, states that there is no evidence to suggest the chimneys are structurally unsound, and that the “reinforced concrete structures” (that’s right Barrett, reinforced) are far from the end of their design life.

Brian Barnes, founder of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, said:
“There is no reason for the chimneys to be destroyed – their condition has been exaggerated.”

Actions often speak louder than words; Wandsworth Borough Council would not allow thousands of people to attend numerous sporting, music and fashion events if they thought REO’s claims were even vaguely true. Unless they plan to hand out hard hats at the beginning of every gig, of course.

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