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

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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Chimneys standing firm

REO continue to shoot themselves in the – what by now must be, given their perilously brittle financial circumstances, bare – feet. Their persistent corporate prostitution of the inner sanctuary of the Battersea Power Station (for yous philistines who don’t know is now renamed THE BOILER ROOM) rips away any last layer of credibility from the assertion that the iconic chimneys of Battersea Power Station should be demolished for safety reasons.

Photo taken from beyond the danger zone

This declaration is a major part of REO’s planning application, stating that the chimneys are monstrously dangerous actually, given that they could fall down imminently. This is the reason, according to Planning Director of REO and Treasury Holdings Jeremy Castle, that there is a strict thirty metre exclusion zone around each of the chimneys at each event. Quite how they maintain this INSIDE the structure of the power station is a mystery.

What undermines these claims is that there have been a slew of conferences, dinners and even large scale events in and around the power station throughout the year; from the recent Red Bull X-Fighter Motorcross event to the upcoming SHINE benefit dinner in November (where a canopy and walkway to access The Boiler Room will be constructed for guests). These events, inclusive of the Paul McCartney gig inside the station back in July, would not be permitted to take place if there was any truth to these safety concerns, so this fallacy of collapsing chimneys is but a clever marketing shoehorn to strengthen the application process. Which ironically of course, will be slowed down to increase the value of the land if the application is accepted.

This flagrant contradiction only adds to the  controversy surrounding REO, given that they are over a billion in debt, unable to pay interest to creditors, heavily criticised by heritage institutions such as the Victorian Society, Kew Bridge Engine Trust and the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, and planning an unwanted underground line extension. The current plans for the station, which you can read more about on our Spectacle Battersea Blog, also include planning requests for an office and leisure complex, riverside access, a hotel, and 3,700 luxury flats.

To send in a written objection to the plans to demolish the station and its neighbouring Grade II* listed sister pumping house, address it to Bob Leuty at Wandsworth Council, planning . The deadline for written objections is 5pm tomorrow (30th September), and you can also contact your Wandsworth Councillor and ask them what their view is on this before deciding how to vote.

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Power Station owners REO stops paying interest due to creditors

The poor house

REO stops paying interest due to creditors

TREASURY Holdings-backed property group Real Estate Opportunities (REO) owners of Battersea Power Station did not pay interest due to a group of its creditors at the end of the August.

REO is apparently in “ongoing restructuring negotiations” with the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), Lloyds Bank and others about its loans. The company announced yesterday: “taking into account the status of the negotiations, the company has determined that the interest payment due … will not be made”, a statement that seems to imply that REO could pay the interest if it wanted to.

It owes its banks around €2 billion and in June said it would not be in a position to repay a €450 million debt due in May 2011. It hired advisers to help it tackle this issue.

Perhaps they could cut back on luxuries and use their tea bags twice.

The future of one of UKs best loved buildings is in the hands of mega debtors who claim they will use “their own money” to build the “essential” Battersea tube extension.

Read more in the Irish Times and Property Week.

Click Battersea Power Station for more blogs
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Tideway Village in Nine Elms under threat

The Tideway Village is a community of houseboats moored in an inlet dock a short way down the river from Battersea Power Station. Property developers Berkeley Homes are involved in the regeneration of the so called Nine Elms Opportunity Area which encompasses the dock and have met with opposition from the residents of the houseboats for their apparent plans to remove the boats from their moorings. The residents were dismayed to hear that they had not been invited to the consultation concerning Berkeley’s plans for the area. After another consultation was held, they were shocked to find that in place of their homes there was a sort of floating garden.

The rightly outraged villagers started a petition and a media campaign to raise awareness about their situation. The BBC paid a visit as did the Evening Standard. After seemingly contacting Berkeley homes; the Evening Standard claimed a victory for the houseboat community and that Berkeley Homes had listened to them and removed the dock from their plans.

However Berkeley have made no Official Statement with regards to the continued presence of the houseboat community and their official website concerning the Tideway Wharf development still omits the boats and depicts a floating garden in their stead. See the Architectural Details and Summary of Our Proposals (links open as PDFs) sections of their website for graphic depictions of the proposed garden.

As far as the Tideway Village (and Spectacle) are concerned, Berkeley still plans to remove them from their moorings and the villagers campaign is still underway.

Interviews with the residents can be viewed here.

Please visit the Tideway Village community website and definitely sign their petition to safe this little pocket of individuality on the increasingly homogenized bank of Thames.

Spectacle will be keeping an eye on the situation and has added the Tideway Village to its Battersea Power Station project page as part of our ongoing interest in the Battersea and Nine Elms area development.

Nine Elms Regeneration – involving local residents

The invitation to the information meeting at the R.O.S.E. Community Clubroom states: “It’s clear that the area will be transformed and we want you, as local residents, to be involved in this process.” As for the first part of that sentence, we cannot argue with this. It is clear that the decision have been made, where and by whom is not entirely clear. Maybe it was made by Transport for London, who want to build an extension of the Northern line. Or by the American diplomatic corps, who want to build their embassy in the area. Or maybe by Real Estate Opportunities, the troubled owners of the Battersea Power Station. One thing is clear though, it was not the local residents who made that decision. There were some presentations, a short Q&A and residents were invited to sign up for updates on the regeneration. These updates may concern them, but they certainly don’t involve them in the decision making process.

The event was well attended, with about 40 people filling all the available seating. There were some displays with impressive looking posters illustrating the plans. There were drinks and nibbles. The plans involve 15,000 new homes and 25,000 new jobs. Those numbers are impressive. There are also plans to build one elementary school and one library. 15,000 homes and one school, the numbers don’t exactly seem to add up. Either someone needs to go to school to develop their mathematical skills, or the calculations are correct and the developers aren’t expecting many children to be raised in their new flats. Perhaps these new properties are being built to house so-called DINKS, or Dual-Income-No-Kids for those of you less familiar with yuppy terminology. Walking through the neighbourhood of the R.O.S.E. Community Clubroom with large estates and a wealth of playgrounds, you can see why the DINKS wouldn’t want to live here.

As for the 25,000 new jobs, it is important to remember that there are already 12,000 jobs, mainly in the industrial area along Stewarts Road. In the presentation it was made clear that those industries would have to move. While at the same time vague promises were made to keep the industry in the borough (with no indication as to where it should go instead) and that an effort would be made “to preserve as much as we can”. Later in the meeting, discussing the lengthy period of 15-20 years the project is planned for, one of the reasons given for this extended span of time was the existing leases.

Reading between the lines, this seems to indicate that the local industry will disappear. And we can subtract most of those 12 000 existing jobs from the 25 000 planned ones. Now the two biggest prospective employees will be the American Embassy and the Battersea Power Station. The American Embassy will bring their own employees and looking at the plans for th Battersea Power Station with up-scale office spaces, one cannot help but wonder how many of the industrial workers will find jobs in the planned (and not yet existing) offices.

Now the construction itself will bring some work to the area. The number 40 000 floated through the room for a while, until a local resident pointed out that those 40,000 jobs refer to a period of 20 years in an industry where contracts usually don’t last any longer than 3 years. So this number is misleading, as it doesn’t mean there will be 40,000 jobs at any point in time. Also if you count each contract, one worker will be getting 6-7 3 year contracts. Each contract term is counted as a job, but calculating actuall employment numbers they are more likely to be around 6,000.

Besides the number games there were whole presentations which merely seemed to consist of quoting a number of “documents” and “frameworks”, including the London Plan including “designated opportunity areas”, the “Opportunity Area Planning Framework”, “Local Development Framework, “Site Specific Allocation Document” and many more. Not having read any of those, I ended up more confused than in the beginning with an unsettling feeling of disempowerment: There is no way I will find the time to read all those, even less understand their terminology. But if I don’t, I won’t understand what it is exactly that is being developed and proposed. Referencing this mass of documentation had one effect only: dispiriting an delegitimising any opions or critiques by local residents and raising a windscreen of referential material that is cited as authority. Here the event resembled an excercise in exclusion rather than any real attempts at involving local residents or trying to set up a democratic and accountable process to find a solution that will actually respond to the needs of and benefit the local population.

Thankfully there was some time for questions and they came plentiful. How the project was benefiting local residents, if their homes were due to be displaced was one of them. The councilor had never heard about this before. But as the petition to save Tideway Village states:

Now yet another very special London gem is under threat: Tideway Village and the Nine Elms Pier Boat Community may disappear forever, possibly as early as March 2011. Tucked away next to the Battersea Power station the 30+ houseboats with their inhabitants form a diverse vibrant community framed by old boats, water wildlife and nature, dearly loved and frequently photographed by passers by.

The current plans being submitted for the construction of ‘Tideway Wharf’ by St James (Berkeley Homes) proposes a development that would replace this special corner of London with cloned, soulless structures, erected in pursuit of profit at the expense of beauty and diversity.

You can find out more about Tidway Village on their website, and sign the petition online.

The question about how Climate Change was swiftly answered, stating that the whole project would be build to highest standards. The question whether projects on such a scale can possibly be sustainable, remained unasked.

When Brian Barnes pointed out that he’d been promised work at the Power Station as a young man, and has been through three proposals, and now, after his hair has gone gray, he is still being promised work at the Battersea Power Station – in twenty years time…

The point was raised that the proposal did not mention affordable housing and that it looked like local people were being “re-developed out.” The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign asked that the local council stand up for Battersea resident Shaker Aamer who is still being held in Guantanamo illegally. The question was raised whether it was right to invite the US Embassy into the borough, as long as Shaker Aamer ist still not home.

The organisers had pointed out that the meeting was being recorded, and you could see quite a few staff sitting around the edges and scribbling hastily. They will be able to answer all questions and refute any criticism raised soon, it seemed like an excercise in preparing notes for future public debate, to be prepared for any objections that might come up.

notes: starbucks and other big corp chains coming in is bad for local business as well as atmosphere of area, artifical venues and retail outlets that won’t work, just as unreal and illusionary as any other proposal during the last 20 years,

Bulldozing Battersea Water Pumping station for profit

Listed but not protected

Battersea Water Pumping Station is Grade II listed but not protected.

The usual safeguards against demolition of a heritage building are under scrutiny as REO, “developers” of Battersea Power Station, seek to bypass the criteria for demolishing a listed building and bulldoze the Victorian Battersea Water Pumping Station. Under new policy guidelines, REO will no longer need to administer the test criteria before destruction of a heritage site. REO state they “are not seeking to justify demolition on the basis of Policy HE9.2(ii)” Conveniently, REO is not in violation of policy and in effect giving them the right to proceed without obstacle.

A summary of the criteria for demolition under Policy HE9.2(ii) of PPS5 are to prove they are unable to:

  1. find a “new use” for the building
  2. maintain existing building  use
  3. find a charity group interested in the building
  4. get a local group willing to take on the building
  5. market the building – someone could use it for alternative means

The community group Battersea Power Station Company has in fact offered to purchase the building for a nominal sum for a community centre, the building is described as “fairly robust and would be restorable if somebody wanted to.” However, under Policy HE9.2(i), REO claim they will not need to go through the test criteria listed. REO claim they can reject applications for the building arguing “the requirement to market the property is not engaged, since that only relates to Policy HE9.2(ii) and not to Policy HE9.2(i).”

Furthermore, under the new policy, REO “justifies the demolition of the water pumping station by reference to Policy HE9.2(i) of PPS5. Our position is that the demolition of the pumping station is justified by the delivery of the substantial public benefits inherent to the regeneration scheme [REO] are promoting, that outweigh the building’s loss, and that retention of the building would compromise the delivery of the comprehensive scheme.”

REO’s superfluous argument that the water pump station must be demolish or it will jeopardize the entire regeneration project for this area remains unfounded.

In fact, there are approximately 20 hectares of land for redevelopment.  It is perplexing that the developers are not willing to revise their plans for redevelopment to include the heritage site. Alex Baldwin of the Victorian society confirms that the demolition of the site would be a “considerable loss and unnecessary waste of a valuable historic building.” She goes on to say that the Battersea Water Pumping station is “integral to the redevelopment and regeneration of the area.  Demolition would degrade the area of the site and call into question the listing process as a whole.  The developers have not fulfilled the testing criteria for demolition, nor have they gone through re-qualifying their scheme for regeneration.”

Examples of successful redevelopment of historical sites can be found in Nottingham, Crossness in East London, Abbey Mills, and Dean Clough Mills in Halifax. The rejuvenated historical sites have revitalized the community and the same could be done for Battersea. Governments should include historic sites in the redevelopment schemes and not deem them mutually exclusive to the social and economical regeneration linked to a community.

By proceeding with the redevelopment proposed by REO, a precedent is set forth in how to undergo regeneration schemes in London. It is not good practice to use this as a blank slate for developers to demolish historical sites for the profit of a selected few. It is imperative to uphold government policy regarding the demolition of these irreplaceable iconic symbols. Once they are gone, we will never be able to get them back.

Quit putting a goddamn dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet – Bill Hicks

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