Brian Barnes Skeptical of Latest Battersea Plans

Brian Barnes has publicly said that he’s continually doubtful of the new plans set out by Sime Darby to regenerate Battersea Power Station.

Barnes, the driving force behind the Battersea Power Station Community Group that he begun 29 years ago, has seen many plans come and go in his time and is sure the recent proposal from the Malaysian giant will be just another in a long list of failed plans.

He has also criticised the plans for not having enough affordable housing, claiming that no-one from the local area will be able to afford to live there, especially young people looking to get onto the property ladder.

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Battersea Plans Unveiled

Sime Darby have released their plans for their regeneration of Battersea Power Station. This Friday (14th) 10:00am-6:00pm and Saturday (15th) 10:00am-4:00pm will see an exhibition of these plans at the Consultation Suite, Battersea Power Station (Gate 2).

These plans have been reported to involve the demolition of the chimneys, and replicas being constructed as the degredation of the current structures is said to be too much to allow a conservation effort.

Around 3,400 homes, including 500 classified as “affordable” will be built on the 29-acre site, as well as two hotels, 160,000 sq ft of offices and dozens of shops and restaurants in a new “high street”. This work is part of their 12-year development project, with a park and walkway projected for completion as early as next April.

Visit for more information.
Email with your thoughts on the proposed plans.

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Battersea Buddleia Returns

A picture of what is believed to be Buddleia growing beneath Battersea Power Station’s south east chimney taken earlier this month shows the continued degradation of the grade 2 listed building. English Heritage seem to be blasé about the upkeep of the iconic building, having allowed such a large plant to take hold amongst the scaffolding.

Photo courtesy of Keith Garner

Sime Darby, the Malaysian Company who bought the aging building earlier this year, finalised the contract last night. With their plans to regenerate the power station set to start within months.

Despite Sime Darby’s history of global deforestation ( see Friends of the Earth report)  in relation to their Palm Oil business, they have had put little effort into the removal of this particular plant.

Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, leader of the consortium, has claimed that the regeneration will produce up to 26,000 jobs. But how long will these jobs remain, and at what expense to the power station itself will this take over cause?

Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin claims they will build “a vibrant, accessible and functional town centre for Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea area”. A town centre completely privately owned.

We aim to interview English Heritage about Battersea Power Station, do you have any questions you want posing to them?

Battersea Power Station Estimated Construction Facts

The Malaysian consortium, the new owners of Battersea Power Station,  has announced in a press release that the regeneration of Battersea Power Station is estimated to cost £6-8bn. This news has spread across the media as the project is set to create 20,000 construction jobs as well as 13,000 permanent jobs. Also it is announced that the project will create 3,500 homes.

On the surface this announcement sounds like a good deal, but  how many of the homes will actually be ‘affordable’, the London plan requires 50%, and for how long will the 20,000 construction workers be employed? It is possible that some of these jobs will only last a few weeks.

Local people have heard this all before.

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Battersea Power Station – Sale agreed but not signed

According to a source in English Heritage, the Malaysian consortium (Sime Darby, SP Setia and Employees Provident Fund) who have agreed to buy Battersea Power Station have not actually signed the contract – so it is not too late to change their minds.


One of the iconic images of the power station - Pink Floyd's Animals


A recent announcement of a predicted 30% fall in the London property prices is just one of the reasons why the consortium and it’s shareholders may want to think again.

Reading the Asian press, it doesn’t seem like the consortium, or at least their shareholders, actually realise the costs, limitations and responsibilities involved in buying a grade II listed building.

Press release articles surrounding the sale refer vaguely to ‘possible preservation‘ of the power station, with talk of merely ‘motivator profit‘ and also of the potential of a ‘400m river front‘ that seems to completely ignore the power station itself, and indeed the smelly waste disposal unit situated directly on the river front in question.

The power station features heavily in London’s iconography, recently throughout the London 2012 Olympics with James Bond and Her Majesty taking a flight over it in the Opening Ceremony, and also it features as one of the ‘London Landmarks’ . Hopefully this renewed pride of Londoners will force English Heritage to awake from it’s slumber and move into action insisting on repairs to Battersea Power Station, which could potentially be extremely expensive.



Nick Cuff, chairman of Planning at Wandsworth Borough Council spoke at the Future of Battersea event (Southbank University, 26th July), claiming that the Northern Line extension would probably not be funded by the developer but by central Government as part of its infrastructure investment programme. Interestingly, the major reason cited by REO (the previous developers) for having significantly less than the required 50% affordable housing was precisely because they were having to contribute to the tube line extension. So SP Setia and Sime Darby need to factor in the 50% affordable housing into their new development plans.

It has also been reported that the consortium will adopt the Vinoly plan, but this does not seem to make sense. Why would they take on such an implausible and previously failed scheme? The greedy and expensive Vinoly plan justified being so densely developed in order to recoup the costs of transport infrastructure – so that too can be challenged if the taxpayer is expected to foot the Northern Line extension costs.

So despite the attempts by Wandsworth Borough Council to present the change of ownership as a seamless continuation of the old Battersea Power Station development started by REO in fact everything is up for grabs again. The new owners and their share holders could find themselves with a completely unviable scheme and a PR disaster. Crassly developing or neglecting this much loved building could result in the new owners being the most despised developers in London.

Its not too late for the consortium to change their mind. Their share holders should be asking- do they know what they have let themselves in for?



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Letter to English Heritage from Battersea Power Station Community Group on future plans


Keith Garner has written the letter below on behalf of the Battersea Power Station Community Group (BPSCG) to English Heritage. It outlines their proposal to purchase the monumental building for £1 and then their community driven plans for the future of the station.


12th June 2012
Dr Edward Impey
English Heritage
1 Waterhouse Square
138 – 142 Holborn
London EC1N 2ST

Dear Edward,


Thank you for calling me last week to discuss Battersea Power Station following our recent letter to Kay Andrews asking her for a meeting. It was good to hear from you again of course, but I was disappointed to hear that Kay Andrews is not able to see us, and that English Heritage does not think it has a role to play in resolving this long-standing issue at this time.

As has been EH’s policy in recent times, you are leaving it to others to come up with solutions. Our most recent initiative – one of many over the last 29 years – was to propose to the administrators to divide Battersea Power Station itself from the South Lambeth Goods Yard site (acquired by John Broome), placing the former in a trust with an endowment, and selling the latter to pay the creditors. The Battersea Power Station Company – a charitable trust we set up in 2002 – offered £1 to take over the building and to open it to the public in the short term. We discussed this last week when you agreed that this sounded like a plausible approach.

Other organisations have also been active in bringing forward initiatives. In April, the Twentieth Century Society organised a symposium to discuss the future of the building. One of the key points of consensus to emerge was desirably of some form of trust ownership, which prompted us to make our bid. Other than the Survey of London personnel, I don’t think English Heritage was represented at the symposium. This was unfortunate, as you would also have seen a very interesting scheme for the building and surrounding area put forward by Marcus Binney of SAVE and Graham Morrison of Allies & Morrison.

The scheme develops ideas in SAVE’s 1981 report (which Graham Morrison also worked on) proposing an amphitheatre in the central boiler house space. This would be unroofed initially using temporary seating similar to that proposed for Olympic events, e.g. A&M’s scheme for Greenwich Park. Longer term, the intention would be to roof the space (an unroofed space would not be a good neighbour in the longer term) and to re-inhabit other parts of the building. Meanwhile the development of the surrounding site would commence.

The scheme would achieve many of the things Battersea Power Station Community Group has advocated over the years. It allows public access to Battersea Power Station. It proposes a sensible phased refurbishment of the building itself and the site around, taking a much longer view than other schemes we have seen. New buildings respect the scale of the Power Station and allow it to continue to exist as an urban monument. The listed Victorian pumping station is also retained. (We would hope of course to see social housing of various kinds as well.)

We also feel that the SAVE/Allies & Morrison scheme is consistent with our proposal to divide the two sites, with the Power Station put into a trust. Indeed, the SAVE/Allies & Morrison scheme might be facilitated if this was done. There is a strong commercial case for SP Setia to put the Power Station into a trust. As a predominantly public building it becomes a “draw” raising the profile of the adjacent commercial site. But at the same time, SP Setia would not be responsible for looking after the building or making it work commercially.

Much of the inflated price of £400m is predicated on having to pay for the “restoration” of the building. This in turn will lead to the over-development of the surrounding site; as we have already seen with the widely condemned Vinoly outline permission. If the obligation to look after the listed building is taken away from SP Setia, then perhaps some height reductions can be negotiated, to the scale A&M propose? Some funding could plausibly come from the HLF instead, the popular Battersea Power Station being a worthy recipient of public money.

There is a further question you should take up with central government, namely the financing of the Northern Line extension. Battersea Power Station Community Group is sceptical as to the necessity of this line, given the two overground stations, plentiful buses etc. But if it is to happen the new owners should not be expected to make a £200m contribution toward the cost of it. The public good here is the preservation of and public access to Battersea Power Station. The new owners should not be encumbered with the additional cost of funding a tube contribution as well.

Surely then, this is an opportunity for English Heritage to influence the future of Battersea Power Station. But there is little time as only 28 days – the ‘due diligence’ period – has been allowed for negotiations. The building is still standing, another over-development has collapsed – as predicted – and the threat to demolish the chimneys is no longer imminent. And there are very positive and possible ideas to save Battersea Power Station as outlined above. With all these factors before us, now would seem to be a good time to meet.

Yours sincerely,
Keith Garner
for Battersea Power Station Community Group

cc Mr Paul Appleton Allies & Morrison
Brian Barnes MBE BPSCG
Mr Marcus Binney SAVE Britain’s Heritage
Dr Catherine Croft Twentieth Century Society
Lord Alf Dubs

Answer came there none.

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