The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Works at Battersea Power Station begin

On  July 4th 2013, ahead of the ground-breaking ceremony by British and Malaysian Prime ministers, our Director, Catherine Croft,  was on the roof of Battersea Power Station for the BBC’s breakfast show.  Although the scheme puts more new building on the site than would be ideal (some of it comes very close to the Power Station and is very tall), we are delighted that this project is underway.

Battersea has stood in a neglected and semi-derelict state for far too long.  It’s great that, despite this, it has grown more and more popular with the public, to the extent that London without its chimneys on the skyline would just not look like London: it’s a really popular C20 building.

We were not convinced that the existing original chimneys were beyond repair, and don’t agree that it’s been conclusively proven that they are in “very poor condition”.  Nevertheless we are supporting the change to the previously issued listed building consent, so that instead of each chimney having to be demolished and rebuilt before work on the next one can start, one will be done first, to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve an accurate result, and then the remaining three will be done in a single phase.    This means the redevelopment of the Power Station building can potentially be delivered up to a year and a half earlier than originally scheduled.

It is crucially important that all four of the chimneys are rebuilt as existing. The power station has suffered in the past from previous demolition work that was not followed by promised restoration and reconstruction works. We believe that Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) are committed to making sure this will not happen again.

We are pleased that sufficient funds from the development are now safeguarded for this work now, and that a water tight agreement is in place to ensure that the chimneys are re-built.

We will continue to monitor progress at Battersea, and do all we can to ensure that the project is a great success.   We note that David Cameron welcomed the start of works as a statement that “Britain is open for business”   What a pity that his government could not accept the listing of Broadgate —where it was claimed that only a refusal  to list (overturning English Heritage’s recommendation) would convey exactly (word for word) that message.

Battersea is a great example of how conservation of a fabulous building can make a crucial contribution to the character of a major redevelopment.