Battersea Power Station Pop-Up Park ‘pops off’


Last May, the Battersea Power Station developers opened what they announced as a Pop-Up Park, that would receive visitors from all over the world every weekend and host several events. The so called public park, that was even added to Google Maps, ( how did that happen?) soon ‘popped off’ and in late September closed its doors.

The Power Station is one of the few obstacles preventing walkers from strolling along the south side of the Thames Path. For years this path has been blocked– a fading sign claimed it was a “construction site” even though really it was a very agreeable and exclusive river front office for construction company Berkeley Homes. The Berkeley Group (Berkeley, St James, St George, St Edward ) are responsible for ”delivering” many of the ugly and soulless developments despoiling the south bank.

IMG_9990In a new sign hanging on the now closed door, the developers claim the reason why they are shutting access to the park is related to the beginning of restoration works of the Power Station. In fact phase 1, which has barely started, is the building of monstrous flats in the slither of land along the rail track, forever obscuring the wonderful views from the west. “Restoration” (or desecration depending on your view of art deco architecture) of the power station is phase 2.

The sign also states that they have had “a great time hosting over 55,000 guests” in the pop up park. Are they are including in that number the more than 30,000 people that visited the building during the London Open House weekend? If so the pop up park was already closed then. Or do they count those attending the numerous events they have hosted, regardless of the alleged danger of the chimneys falling, on the south side of the site?

Finally it suggests you write to if you would like to discuss putting on an event- It would seem danger from the chimneys only affects the non-paying public but not private, paying guests.

Perhaps “PR Park” would be a more appropriate name than “pop-up Park”.

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Battersea Power Station -masters of spin

The new owners of Battersea Power Station may not know much about property development, but they do have excellent PR. The hugely successful Open House London day attracted tens of thousands of visitors who queued for hours to catch a brief glimpse of this much loved building.


However, in PR terms, it was a bit of an own goal. As only a few days later, the World Monuments Fund listed Battersea Power Station as an endangered world heritage site. See our blog on this.

This very significant listing was hardly commented on in the media. Despite its big PR it was’nt even mentioned in the very slick newsletter of the owners. The inclusion was only visible in some mainstream media:

”Battersea Power Station ‘at risk’ says the heading of an article in the Times. And according to the the Express:

”The Grade II listed London landmark is among 67 heritage

sites that are at risk from natural, economic, social and political forces according to The World Monuments Fund (WMF). The decommissioned coal-fired power station was joined on the list by the beautiful Italian city of Venice and the little known Hong Kong village of Pokfulam.”

The Local Guardian on the inclusion:

”WMF have said they aim to keep a spotlight on the current redevelopment plans for the station, particularly focusing on the re-building of it’s four chimneys.”

Noticeably, they claim it to be one of the best-loved landmarks of the capital.

The Evening standard did not mention this embarassing listing either. Since they recently made Battersea Power Station a front cover image as part of their association with “The Power 1000 – London’s most Influential People” critical reporting of Battersea Power Station from the Standard, which was always weak, has been significantly lacking.

See our full article about the owners’ pro – active approach to media management.

Interestingly, the owners were unable to provide visitors with updated information about the new phasing of the demolishing of the chimneys. This was left to a small group of local volunteers of the Battersea Power Station Community Group.

Watch our video about the demonstration against these plans during London open house.

The owners have also not mentioned their plans to make a bio fuel power station. If you think bio fuels sounds good, look at this chart. And then there’s the PR problem with main partner Sime Darby’s significant role in deforestation and the extinction of the Orang u Tang.

Despite these obstacles, they are still winning the PR – war as many people believe they are going to start to renovate the Power Station “at last”. However, phase 1 is only building ugly greedy soulless flats for investors that will block most of the views. And phase 2 involves demolishing the chimneys and, they claim, replacing them with replicas.

The current agreement is that they have permission to take down one, and that is including the art deco brickwork on the top. They will rebuild the first one to 25 meters, which is about halfway. When they have reached that point, they can take the other three chimneys down and then they will continue rebuilding the first.
So it’s essentially one plus three. Now at some point down that route, if there’s a default, the developer either refuses, or claim they ‘cannot put them back up’ or they run out of money, the chimneys, like the roof, will not be put back. The cost of putting back three and a half chimneys is massive- far more than the “bond” being asked.


They are also not keen to draw attention to their recent request to dismantle the two listed cranes that are disgracefully being allowed to rust away, in order to provide a jetty for taking underground extension tunnel soil out via the river. They have a very long water front it is typical that they should insist it can only work by demolishing the cranes.

To us and any one interested, except English Heritage and Wandsworth council who collude in the hidden master plan, the owners are pursuing a policy of demolition by stealth.

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Olympic City Critiques: a Birkbeck reading group

The Olympic Games literally and symbolically ‘take place’ in major cities. They represent the mega-event par excellence which not only physically transforms areas of cities beyond recognition but also shifts the urban place imaginary. City growth coalitions eagerly bid against other cities to win this world-class spectacle primarily for the boost it is supposed to impart to the local politics of urban regeneration. Researchers and activists over the last thirty years have highlighted how such grandiose visions and accelerated development projects produce spectacular but also highly inequitable outcomes for urban citizens. As with other neo-liberal regeneration programmes, the vital question of ‘who really benefits?’ is highly pertinent. However, many of the texts which researchers have produced are not well known or well understood outside the various academic specialisms within which they circulate. We are setting up a reading group open to students, academics, activists and other individuals interested in exploring the social, economic and political processes of these spectacular urban mega-events from critical perspectives.

The first meeting of the Olympic City Critiques reading group will take place at Birkbeck in central London on Wed 30 March 2011 12-2pm (Room 351, Malet Street).
The second meeting will be on Wed 27 April 12-2pm (Room 253, Malet Street). Subsequent meetings will be two weeks apart.

The paper ‘Going for Gold: Globalizing the Olympics, Localizing the Games’ by J.R. Short, provides a useful introduction to the topics we will be discussing, and I can email it to anyone interested in attending. The paper discusses the siting of the Summer Olympic Games at the global, national and local scales: the increasing corporatization of the Games is examined, and their use in city marketing campaigns is evaluated.

If you are interested in joining the reading group, please send an email to Dr. Paul Watt.

We look forward to seeing you at what will hopefully prove to be a stimulating reading group series.

Paul & Martin

Dr Paul Watt (
Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies
Department of Geography, Environment & Development Studies
Birkbeck, University of London

Martin Slavin
member of the East End based group Games Monitor
a network of people raising awareness about issues within the London Olympic development processes.

International and US Olympic Committees Continue Link with BP

Jacques Rogge – president of the IOC. Courtesy of United Nations Photo

Since the devastating oil spill earlier this year, BP (British Petroleum) have found it a little difficult to big up their green credentials. Unsurprisingly, the International and US Olympic Committees (IOC and USOC) have spoken up about their continued support for BP. Or perhaps more specifically, continuing their support of the BP sponsorship which floats around the figure of £50 million they received a short while ago.

Other illustrious London 2012 sponsors include Dow Chemicals, Coca Cola and BMW… As previously mentioned on the Spectacle blog, the official 2012 Olympic sponsors reads like a who’s who of greenwash and corporate irresponsibility. But as long as Sebastian Coe is happy and the Olympics are still rolling into town, who cares?

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London Olympic “park” displaces allotments

You can view video clips about the displacement and destruction of the 100 year old Manor Gardens Allotments to make way for a walk way for 4 weeks of the London 2012 Olympics.

These clips are part of our on going project about the effects of the Olympic mega project on the fabric of London and its citizens.

view clips

For more information on Spectacles Olympic Project please visit our Project Page

For Spectacles latest film on the Olympics please visit our archive page.

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