Battersea Power Station Company’s Objection to demolition of the Victorian Pumping Station

The Battersea Power Station Company, the charitable organisation seeking to protect the Battersea Power Station, have submitted their objection to Treasury Holding’s application to demolish the nearby Grade II listed Victorian Pumping Station. The pumping station is widely recognised as of historic and architectural interest by a wide range of authorities including: the Victorian Society; Save Britain’s Heritage; the Newcomen Society; the Council for British Archaeology;  the River Thames Society; the West London River Group; the Battersea Society; the Kew Bridge Engines Trust, and the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society.

The only justification offered by REO (Treasury Holdings) is a spurious notion of “public benefit” where the developer is attempting to wrap up their desire to build a few extra offices or flats on the site as a “public benefit”. The only other, even weaker, argument seems to be the idea that the pumping station must be sacrificed in order to save the Battersea Power Station.  As the letter below makes clear there is no real connection. The owner has a duty of care for both Grade II listed buildings. Besides many critics would claim their plans to “save” the power station by turning it into a Westfield style shopping centre and knocking windows all along both side exterior walls is actually a mindless act of vandalism that destroys the building’s architectural integrity. Put together with REO’s application to demolish the chimneys and replace with plastic ones this is “development” 1960’s style. Is it also “conservation” 2010 style? Is there any imagination out there??

If you would like to register your objection it is never too late!

Write to :

10th September 2010

Borough Planner
Wandsworth Borough Council
Town Hall
London SW18 2PU

For the attention of Mr Tony McDonald

Dear Sirs,


I am writing on behalf of the Directors to confirm our objection to this application to demolish the pumping station.

We wrote previously on 29th January 2010 to object, pointing out that one of our objectives as a company is the preservation of Battersea Water Pumping Station.

Many other organisations, with an interest in conservation, science and the river Thames have since written to you to object to this application.  The list is impressive:  including: the Victorian Society; Save Britain’s Heritage; the Newcomen Society; the Council for British Archaeology;  the River Thames Society; the West London River Group; the Battersea Society; the Kew Bridge Engines Trust, and the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society

Given the near unanimity of opposition to the proposed demolition and support for retention and alternative use, we wrote to Treasury Holdings on 8th June to offer to buy the pumping station for a sum of £1.  The offer took account of the parlous state into which Parkview International, and now Treasury Holdings, have allowed the listed building to decline.  You have a copy of that letter and we would ask that you make special reference to it in your report.

Treasury replied to us on 17th June to refuse our offer, taking refuge in clause HE 9.2 (i) of the new government guidance on the historic environment PPS 5 which talks about the need to demonstrate “substantial public benefits” that would outweigh the harm caused by the loss of the heritage asset, ie the demolition of the pumping station.

Treasury have since produced a revised assessment report of the pumping station (September 2009) taking account of the recently revised and updated PPS5.

This report is essentially a detailed architectural and archaeological description of the building.  This merely serves to emphasise its significance of the building and the importance of keeping it.

The report goes on to extol the “substantial public benefits” of their proposals.  These are listed as: the retention of Battersea Power Station (with the implication that in some way the pumping station should be sacrificed in order for the Power Station to be saved) ; a “contribution” to the proposed Northern Line extension; and other “substantial” – but unspecified – benefits arising from the regeneration of the site.

The report goes on to argue that the demolition of the pumping station is necessary in order to “deliver” the public benefits of the proposals listed above.

There are various flaws in Treasury’s justification for the demolition.

Firstly of course, the retention of the pumping station and opening it to visitors is a substantial public benefit in itself.   It is moreover a practical and achievable goal with a tangible outcome.

Secondly, Treasury does not make it clear why they can’t provide both the public benefit of keeping the listed building and other public benefits as well.   It is not credible that this small building cannot be retained in such a large scheme on a 38 acre site.  Indeed Treasury’s total scheme, for instance as shown on the model in their offices, makes proposals for additional sites beyond the Battersea Power Station site itself.

Thirdly, it is misleading to suggest that all the public benefits accruing from the redevelopment of a 38 acre site will be jeopardised by the retention of the pumping station.  A more realistic comparison would be the public benefits that could be had in place of the pumping station itself.  Given the small size of the building this might be no more than a small office or 8-10 flats  (The higher figures Treasury quotes for loss of residential units are dubious, related to a notional  “30m exclusion zone to create a suitable setting for the retained listed building”.)

A further point, which you will no doubt tell us is “not a planning matter” – is that Treasury does not have the ability to provide the “substantial public benefits” that they claim, given that they are £1billion in debt.

This application is without justification or merit and should be thrown out.

Please will you now take steps to compulsorily purchase the pumping station and have it transferred to us.  We are the rightful owner of this building if Treasury no longer requires it.

We would also reiterate our previous request that you use your legal powers to require Treasury to secure the building from further physical deterioration and other threats.

Yours faithfully,

Keith Garner   Director

cc    Mr Nick Collins  English Heritage
Ms Alex Baldwin   Victorian Society
Mr Marcus Binney Save Britain’s Heritage
Miss Juila Elton  Newcomen Society
Ms Vicki Fox  Council for British Archaeology
Mr Peter Finch  River Thames Society
Mr Peter Makower West London River Group
Ms Monica Tross  Battersea Society
Mr Oliver Pearcey Kew Bridge Engines Trust
Mr Tim R Smith  Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society
Mr Frank Daly  NAMA

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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,


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

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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