Battersea Power Station under investigation for “dubious” investments

Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak (pictured below sharing a joke with David Cameron and Boris Johnson)  has been charged with corruption over a ‘£3.4bn fraud.’

Caption Competition: Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak, Boris Johnson and David Cameron

The purchase of Battersea Power Station, the biggest property deal in the UK, is under threat after Anwar Ibrahim, the new leader of Malaysia’s governing coalition said it would be investigated as part of “dubious” investments made by the previous administration.

The Guardian reported:

“Anwar Ibrahim’s comments will raise questions about the British government’s commitment to fighting corruption. He said the money trail of the 1MDB fraud ran through London, with $1.83bn of Malaysia’s cash funnelled into a Saudi-British company.

“There was no attempt by British authorities to investigate. But this was a crime using sovereign wealth funds for reckless spending sprees.” he said.

“I say to Britain: you talk about transparency and anti-corruption drives, now is the time for action. I am saying now allow the institutions to conduct investigations fairly and give the necessary cooperation.”

Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader spent nine years in prison on charges which have been confirmed as trumped up and politically driven.

We ask how does this impact on the future of the building? The signs are not good. Despite being festooned with cranes there does not seem to be much going on at the site, just the continuation of the demolition by stealth. The east and west walls of iconic art deco brick work have gone. The London luxury property market has effectively collapsed. Many key individuals, including long time CEO Robert Tincknell, have left the Battersea Power Station Development Company (did they jump or were they pushed?).

Are we going to be left, as predicted, with a useless and worthless ruin surrounded by hideous and empty flats that no one wants to buy? Will the poor workers of Malaysia ever see their money back?

You can read more about Battersea Power Station on our blog and watch our film Selling an Icon here:


Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon from Spectacle Media on Vimeo.

‘Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon’ tells the story of Battersea Power Station from its prominence as a site of industrial power through the years of dereliction, speculation and planning blight to the replacement of the chimneys under the current scheme – a key example of developer-led preservation. In an age of aggressive ‘big business’ redevelopment, the film gives voice to the local communities who are rarely consulted and often overlooked.

Filmed over 15 years, Spectacle’s new documentary follows the grassroots campaigns of Battersea Power Station Community Group to preserve the building for the public good. It takes us straight to the heart of the current conservation debate about whether – and how – historic buildings should be preserved, governed, modified or replaced, and ‘who’ they belong to.

Also available to purchase on DVD. For institutional buyers and public screenings, please contact us at

Battersea Power Station Chimneys demolition- History repeating


Thursday 12th June representatives of the BPSCG (Battersea Power Station Community Group) met with Paul Landsberg of Wandsworth Borough Council Planning Department to discuss their concerns regarding the legal and financial protections in place ahead of the imminent demolition of the chimneys, in particular whether the bond is in force and whether it is large enough to cover the cost of rebuilding the chimneys should the developer fail to replace them.  What they discovered was deeply disturbing:

The bond money is held in a Malaysian bank, CIMB
The value of the bond for the reconstruction of three and a half chimneys is only £11million.
The value of the bond is based on an estimate supplied by Philip Gullet of the Battersea Power Station Development Company.
This estimate has not been independently checked by cost consultants employed by Wandsworth Council or English Heritage.
The contract sum for the demolition and rebuilding of the chimneys was redacted from the copy of the contract sent to Wandsworth. So it is not possible to compare demolition costs against rebuilding.
The Council does not know if the bond is signed and in force, although the reconstruction contract starts next Monday.


This is all the more alarming in light of what happened when John Broome, the first failed developer of the site, took down but never replaced the west wall and roof, as it remains to this day. The council’s own report in 1989 criticised the woeful lack of safeguards and- some would say- gullibility of the planning officers.

According to Battersea Power Station Community Group the bond money should be held in a British bank if Wandsworth and English Heritage are to have any chance of getting at it in the event of a default.  The total value of the bond also needs to be increased substantially if it is to be able to cover the reconstruction of three and a half chimneys, if a default occurs.

With the chimneys reconstruction contract about to start, it is clear that Wandsworth Council and English Heritage are not protecting our cultural heritage -either in checking the proposed value of the bond or making sure the contract is signed and enforceable before the demolition and reconstruction project starts.

With interest rates about to rise, the possibility of the project failing yet again is increasing by the day.  If this happens when the chimneys are down, and it turns out the bond money isn’t there (as was the case in 1989 after Broome went bust)  the chimneys will never be rebuilt.

We need to rescue Battersea Power Station from these shameless, grey, dozing men who will sell our industrial heritage for peanuts and the enrichment of foreign “investors”. Keep an eye on the revolving door!

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URGENT-Save Battersea Water Pumping Station from demolition

We, the undersigned, ask Wandsworth Council to refuse listed building consent application 2014/1236 for the demolition of Battersea Water Pumping Station.

Battersea Water Pumping Station is the oldest surviving water pumping station in London.

It was built in 1840 for the Southwark Water Company and extended in 1856.  It housed a series of Cornish engines used for pumping water from the Thames.  At one time the pumping station housed the largest Cornish engine ever built, with a 112″ diameter cylinder.

The building was listed Grade II in 1994.

The pumping station commemorates the rich industrial heritage of the Nine Elms and North Battersea.  It has great potential to encouraging young people to think of science, technology and engineering as important skills worth acquiring.

Retaining and preserving the pumping station would attract visitors to the site and therefore increase footfall for the new facilities that will be open to the public.  It is in everybody’s interest that it is preserved.

We ask Wandsworth Council to initiate discussions with the owner/developer so that the development can be reconfigured to incorporate the pumping station

We further ask Wandsworth Council to convene negotiations between the owner/developer and the Battersea Power Station Company Ltd (a local registered charity) to allow the pumping station to be passed into the latter’s ownership for £1, to allow them to renovate the pumping station with Lottery funding.

Sean Creighton & Keith Garner

June 2014

Stop this cultural vandalism for profit.

PLEASE Sign the petition

For more blogs on the Battersea Water Pumping Station

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Industrial heritage “As important as our country homes and castles”

A new survey from English Heritage has found that listed industrial buildings are at the highest risk of severe neglect. Around 3% of standard grade I and II* listed buildings in England are considered to be at risk, while a staggering 11% of industrial grade I and II* listed buildings are in the same category.

Grade I and II* industrial listed buildings in England cover a variety of structures from across the industrial spectrum including Battersea Power Station.

According the English Heritage the problem is not a lack of appreciation from the public. A poll of public attitudes carried out on their behalf shows that 86% of the public agree that it is important we value and appreciate industrial heritage and 80% think it is just as important as our castles and country houses.

Despite English Heritage’s obvious concerns about the future of listed industrial heritage sites, it seems that they have some problems categorising the status of some of these sites.

Their 2011 Heritage At Risk Register lists both Battersea Power Station and the Victorian Battersea Pumping Station as “Priority D”. This means “Slow decay; solution agreed but not yet implemented”. Which is ambiguously incorrect on both fronts.

Battersea Pumping station:

The report does correctly state that this historic Victorian Pumping station is going to demolished, despite widespread and authoritative opposition, after a planning application was approved by Wandsworth Council in November 2010. So what English Heritage really mean is, it’s going to be knocked down but it hasn’t been done yet. The pump station is crucial, the only reason to demolish it  is it allows the power station owners REO,  to maximise profits. Apparently completely ignoring Malcolm Tucker of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society  who previously made it clear “that it should be possible to incorporate the conserved building within the scheme.”

Battersea Power Station:

Again the report offers clarity by stating “fresh planning and listed building applications approved 2010 subject to legal agreement for restoration, extension and conversion of Power Station to provide retail, residential flats, business, cultural, hotel and conference facilities.”

There are two problems here: 1, “D” has been the status of the power station for decades now and little has changed. 2, the fact that legal agreement is required means that a solution has not been agreed.

Priority D is therefore the developers ideal status. Using the “big bang theory of redevelopment” implementation of the “solution” can be almost permanently postponed. Rather than phased conservation and restoration the heavily indebted REO insists their preposterous scheme to “save” the power station depends of a new tube line being dug, which of course will never happen.  They claim that their “solution” to restoration depends on the creation of a whole new urban area- a scheme that looked unlikely even in the height of the property boom.

Meanwhile the building falls into decay and eventually will require demolishing for safety reason giving the developer a clear conscience and nice clear piece of land to build on. Never mind that the nation loses one of its most iconic industrial buildings that are ‘as important as our castles and country homes”.

Of course the developers could “moth ball” both buildings until such time that a genuinely appropriate and viable solution comes along, but there is no need to speculate on why they won’t do that.

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Unauthorised Battersea Power Station Helipad – NO ACTION


The unauthorised use of the grounds of the Battersea Power Station as a private helipad has received no action under the ENFORCEMENTS section of the Wandsworth Council’s Planning Application Committee agenda to be discussed at today’s meeting.

Residents have been expressing concerns since as early as June 2003 about helicopter flights causing noise and disturbance, and according to the Committee report:

DETAILS:  The number of helicopter flight movements (a landing and take-off) at
this site within the power station is logged by the Battersea Heliport and its monthly returns shows that the current level of movements is between 14 and 56 per month over the last year, an average per month of about 35 movements.   This compares to a monthly average of between 30 and 51 movements per month over the last ten years, with a peak in activity during the months of May, June and July 2007 (93, 96 and 92 movements, respectively).

All other breaches of planning control in Wandsworth Borough by small businesses are being enforced by the Committee, but nothing is being done to enforce the removal of the helipad:

RECOMMENDATION:  That the committee endorses the view that it is not
expedient to take enforcement action against the use of part of the site of Battersea
Power station for the take-off and landing of helicopters, based on the current level of usage, and that the complainants be informed accordingly.

One rule for the rich and powerful, and another for smaller, less well-connected enterprises?

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Restoration of Ellis Island an example for Battersea Power Station Owners

The rejuvenation of Ellis Island provides a concrete and successful testament to the possibility of community led re-development for Battersea Power Station, and evidence that existing derelict structures need not be pulled down in their entirety to proceed with restoration.

12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration between 1892 and 1954, but the island since fell into disrepair. Although attempts at restoring the site were initially unsuccessful, the island was proclaimed a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, and its listed status led to proposals to refurbish the buildings and adapt them into a museum. Run by the National Park Service, the museum hosts exhibitions, houses additional community film theatres and also a library thanks mainly to the fundraising of the not-for-profit organisation Save Ellis Island.

Battersea Power Station Community Group have been championing similar ideas of a public heritage and programme space in and around the old pumping station for years that could serve the local area without the necessity of tearing down the chimneys, which seems to be the desire of the current developers REO despite public declarations to the contrary. Click here to read more about the latest developments at Battersea Power Station, its significance and Spectacle’s Battersea project.

Battersea Power Station Community Group’s Objection letter

Below is Battersea Power Station Community Group’s objection to the planning applications.

You might find this useful reference when making your objections. The deadline for objections is 31 January. Please try and register your objection.

Battersea Power Station Community Group

16 DRCA Charlotte Despard Avenue

London SW11 5HD

Mr Bob Leuty

Planning Department

Wandsworth Town Hall

High Street

London SW18 2PU

26th January 2010

You Ref: 2009/3575/3576/3578

Dear Mr Leuty

I am writing to add comments to my original objection about Battersea Power Station and Battersea Water Pumping Station and the surrounding land.

Development of the surrounding land will be far too dense and completely obscure Battersea Power Station from views from the south of the building, especially by the application for all of the residential blocks around the Power Station being planned for up to 56 metres in height.

The buildings have the real effect of crowding the Power Station and not allowing the listed building the dignity of protected views. Battersea park road / Nine Elms Lane and Queenstown Road will be blocked off by the high buildings.

None of these buildings should be higher than the parapet of the Switch Houses of Turbine Halls A & B.

Views from the railway into Victoria Station will be obscured.

There is no indication about the percentage of homes that will be “affordable” We propose that this figure should be 50%.

The development is so dense with over 3000 flats that it is pure greed that there are plans to build more flats as penthouses on the Boiler House and Switch Houses. This adds further insult to the Listed Grade II* building one of the top landmarks of London. We oppose the development of structures and extensions connected to the building to provide accommodation which will ruin the silhouette of the building

The proposal for a roof top swimming pool was only ever to divert criticism from the plan to build the original, monstrous, Vinoly tower. For this to be given credibility will show the whole scheme to be discredited.

All water features are on the land are irrelevant. The Thames flows past and Battersea Park has extensive lakes. The water just serves to make the land unusable by people who might want a place to walk and sit and the water further restricts movement around the site because most of the gardens will be denied to the public as they will be private gardens for the residents.

There should be public open space/park equivalent to the open space/park on the Riverside on the south side of the power station.

The Battersea Water Pumping Station should not be demolished. It is Grade II listed, older than the power station 1860 and a unique example of the London Water supply with the Largest Cornish engine ever built (no longer existing) The Pumping Station is a compliment to the Power Station.

Nearby are the railway arches used by A.V. Roe to build the Bulldog plane, the first plane to fly, and the gasworks where balloon flight became the prelude to powered flight. It is a shame that this industrial heritage is not protected because there is the same relevance as the Iron Bridge museum right here in Battersea.

The Water Pumping Station should have the protection of a condition that it can only be demolished when the detailed plans for new buildings are approved and there is a contract in place to build the new building on the site of the Pumping Station.

The riverside walk should be built as soon as it is possible to do so.

Battersea Power Station Chimneys

The report by Stuart Tappin and George Ballard shows that the chimneys can be repaired and that the proposal to demolish is not proved. Don Bianco of English Heritage agrees that the chimneys should not be demolished. Mr Bianco is the EH inspector who regularly checked the building every six months and abseiled from the top outside and inside the chimneys.

The previous owners claimed to have entered into an irrevocable letter of credit that guaranteed the funds to rebuild the chimneys in the event that they were unable to do the rebuilding. Parkview promptly left and there was no evidence that such a document existed.. Without this guarantee of sufficient funds from the current owners we believe that once the chimneys are demolished they will never be rebuilt leading to the eventual demolition of all of the building to be replaced by luxury flats.

Internally the proposal to remove to the switch gear in Annex B to a new location is opposed and should be kept in the original location with Control Rooms A & B open free to the public.

It appears that the listed status of Grade II* is being ignored by the proposal to create windows in the walls. It is a characteristic of the listing that the large areas of brick are integral to the building and by making more windows the whole effect will be changed to the detriment of the Power Station.

Tube Line

The plans for the tube extension from Kennington are at best confused and at worst “Humbug” as described by the Minister for Transport, Sediq Kahn.

There seems to be 4 different routes proposed but there is no intersection at Vauxhall tube.

Whereas the Waterloo and City Line taken towards Clapham Junction would allow a direct connection between the City and The Junction and reduce the load on Waterloo Station with many passengers seeking to travel in the direction of the Junction.

The Waterloo and City Line could easily reach Vauxhall helping to relieve some crowding on the Victoria Line. It would also relieve crowding on the Main Line and the City branch of the Northern Line, from Waterloo to Clapham Junction and Elephant and Castle to Stockwell.

Historically there have been three routes through SE London proposed as extensions for various lines:-

  1. Through Bricklayer’s Arms and Lewisham to Hayes/Bexleyheath

  2. Through Herne Hill and West Norwood to Crystal Palace and Beckenham

  3. Through Camberwell, Denmark hill and Dulwich to Streatham and Croydon.

The Victoria Line is built to the Crystal Palace alignment and its proposed extension to Herne Hill is along it. The Bakerloo Line was originally built to an alignment towards Bricklayer’s Arms. The Northern Line’s Charing Cross branch naturally faces the Camberwell route.

There are 3 lines and 3 routes for extensions to traverse.

Sendeng the Northern Line to Battersea would remove the future possibility of some part or all of at least one of the above routes through the South East being served.

Finance for the listed buildings

If the buildings were in a development trust they would be eligible for grants from the Sport and Heritage Lottery Funds.

Yours sincerely Brian Barnes MBE

Battersea Power Station Community Group

16 DRCA Charlotte Despard Avenue

London SW11 5HD

Historic listed Pump House to be demolished

English Heritage have given their blessing for the Victorian Battersea Water Pumping House, on the site of Battersea Power Station and which once housed a 112 inch Cornish engine, one of the largest steam engines ever built, to be demolished.

Neglected and scheduled for demolition the listed Battersea Water Pump Station

Neglected and scheduled for demolition the listed Battersea Water Pump Station

The current planning application submitted by Real Estate Opportunities ( Opportunities for them no doubt) includes plans to delist and demolish Battersea Water Pumping House. In fact in all their models and plans the building has been swept away- pre-empting the permission. It is outrageous that English Heritage have swallowed, hook line and sinker, REO’s argument that one listed building ( The Pump House) needs to be demolished in order to save another ( The Power Station). English Heritage know nothing of business and should be a little bit savvy about the tricks of property developers who nearly always want to rid themselves of any listed buildings that interfere with maximising profits.

Listed building consent for the demolition of the building was previously given in 1997 and renewed in 2002.  Battersea Power Station Community Group made objections on both occasions and also 1n 2002 opposed the demolition (on spurious “health & safety” grounds) of the boiler house of the pumping station.

Since 2002, Parkview’s scheme has collapsed and there is a different developer, with a new scheme.  The justifications given in 1997 and 2002 that the loss of the pumping station as a necessary sacrifice in order to achieve the greater good of saving Battersea Power Station has therefore been proved to be false.

The pumping station is of great interest, in particular in terms of its industrial archaeology.   It is quite clear therefore that the pumping station should be incorporated within the current masterplan for the site. The Historic Building Record prepared by CgMs consulting on behalf of Parkview, the then developers of the whole Battersea Power Station site (Document JL/3184) show there is a “void” beneath the Pump station up to 20 feet deep. CgMs suggested that this need not be be further investigated and it was back filled, however research by members of the Battersea Power Station Community Group of drawings held at the London Metropolitan Archives suggest the giant 112 inch Cornish engine (or remnants of the smaller engines) may still be in this void.

If REO/Treasury no longer requires the building, then it should be transferred to a trust.   PPG 15 requires trust ownership be considered before an application for listed building consent to demolish can be given.

The Battersea Power Station Community Group will be very happy to take on ownership of the building if REO/Treasury no longer requires it.  We would be able to raise funds to repair the building, using the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources.  There are any number of socially useful purposes to which the building could be put, such as a boating club or an annex for the Kew Bridge Steam Museum?

If you would like to object to the Battersea Power Station plans you have until January 31st 2010 click here for more details.

For more information about Spectacle’s Battersea Power Station project including video interviews.

To read more blogs about Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station development architect Vinoly inspired by Regency Terraces

Rafael Vinoly claims his designs for the monstrous and greedy buildings that will obscure and dwarf Battersea Power Station are inspired by Regency Terraces such as those around Regents Park. This suggests that he has never actually seen Regency buildings or he has a post-ironic sense of humour.

Vinoly's "Regency" terraces for Battersea Power Station

Vinoly's "Regency" terraces for Battersea Power Station

His designs have none of the sense of scale, proportion or elegance of Regency architecture. No thought has been given to how they interface with the street level. They are monotonous and ugly. They are designed to be the maximum height possible, level with the “shoulder” of the power station, thereby making the beautiful Power Station almost completely hidden from view except from across the river.

Vinoly's Regency inspired sense of scale

Vinoly's Regency inspired sense of scale

It is hard to imagine buildings less Regency in style, is it possible that he was mistakenly looking at pictures of rejected hotel developments in Marbella or Malaga?

Vinoly's tasteful "Regency inspired" concrete block

Vinoly's tasteful "Regency inspired" concrete block

Note how the much trumpeted “public space” around the Power Station is in fact water and therefore unusable, a trick learned from Centre Point.

If you would like to object to these plans you have until January 31st 2010 click here for more details.

For more information about Spectacle’s Battersea Power Station project including video interviews.

To read more blogs about Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station Planning Application deadline 31st January

Objections to the Battersea Power Station Planning Application must be in by 31st January and there is plenty to object to.

Battersea Power Station obscured by tall ugly buildings

Battersea Power Station to be obscured by tall ugly buildings

The developers REO/Treasury Holdings want to:

Demolish the historically interesting and currently listed Pumping House.

Demolish the chimneys and replace (yeah right) with some kind of plastic replicas.

Build some of London’s ugliest and greediest office monstrosities.

Privatise large sectons of land around the power station.

Knock windows into the Power Station so they can build “luxury” flats.

The vast planning application contains many real hidden horrors, obscured by red herrings such as the Battersea extension of the Northern Line which is never going to happen and the ridiculous roof top swimming pool added to the model at the last minute.

You can register your objections on-line

Details of the Power Station project application can be found on the Planning pages of Wandsworth Council’s website by searching the applications database using reference numbers below or follow our links:

Ref: 2009/3575  Battersea Power Station Site / Offices Exhibition Suite and Premise

Click here to object/comment on 3575

Ref: 2009/3576   Alter or Extend a Listed Building, the demolition and reconstruction of the chimneys, new windows and other openings.

Click here to object/comment on 3576

Ref: 2009/3577    Repair, restoration, installation of structures on, and other works to the jetty in association with its conversion to provide pedestrian access and a river transport facility

Click here to object/comment on 3577

Ref: 2009/3578   Demolition of Battersea Water Pumping Station a listed Building

Click here to object/comment on application 3578

We will be updating this blog this week with more information on the planning application and suggestions for model letters.

For more information about Spectacle’s Battersea Power Station project including video interviews.

To read more blogs about Battersea Power Station