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Back from the drawing board
Niki May Young reports...

Rafael Viñoly has released details and images of an ‘advanced masterplan’ for Battersea Power Station. The images show a complete redesign including the removal of the previously proposed 300m glass chimney and atrium which was contested by the London Mayor in advance of the introduction of a new ‘Views Management Framework’. The changes come despite figures collated during a month long exhibition of the plans in August 2008 which showed an 82% approval rate for the design.

Real Estate Opportunities, who own the site, said: “The masterplan has moved forward in close collaboration with Wandsworth Council, the local community, the Mayor and Greater London Authority, English Heritage, CABE, Transport for London and numerous other organisations. We are grateful to everyone for their contribution to the evolution of our plans for this major regeneration site.”

The new plans, which go on display for the first time tonight at the Power Station site, ensure that the iconic station retains its dominance in the scheme by limiting the height of surrounding buildings to below that of the four chimneys, which are to be retained following evidence that they can be safely restored. They also introduce large areas of greenery and water, creating urban parklands in the centre of the busy Borough.

Five hundred new homes have been added in the redesign to total 3,700, and 1.5 million sq ft of office floorspace, community facilities and 500,000 sqft of retail, restaurants, leisure space and a hotel are to be created. A spokesperson for

 

the scheme also advised that discussions are taking place with a private hospital operator about the addition of a hospital within a more detailed masterplan further down the line.

While the redesign will no doubt quieten many critics of the original extravagant designs, Brian Barnes, noted artist and community campaigner for Battersea Power Station is not one to silence so easily. Heading up the Battersea Power Station Company, like so many of the Station’s supporters, Brian’s interest was first ignited when the iconic building featured on the album cover of Pink Floyd’s .....album. He memorably took a similar photo which featured in Q magazine. He has, some might say, a purist belief in the Station’s community worth, and while he sees the latest designs as progress, there are many elements that he insists are not necessary. “They’ve gone back to the park view from before that mad dome thing which we called the dyson, you know it looked like it was going to hoover everything up..."

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Barnes was the man responsible for the commissioning of drawings showing the last design, with its soaring atrium, from the Hungerforth Bridge. These were then shown to Boris Johnson who subsequently blocked the scheme following its approval by Wandsworth Council.

“I think there’s still some madness going on with the building a private tube line," added Barnes. "One and a half mile of tube line, it’s stupid...it takes about ten minutes to walk that distance and there’s other tube stops very nearby... We think they should drop the tube line.”

Rob Tincknell, Managing Director of Treasury Holdings UK who are seeing through the plans, however, advises that the tube lines are ‘essential to achieve the high density redevelopment of the area’ and that they are ‘working tirelessly with Transport for London to secure the Northern Line Extension to Nine Elms’.

The inclusion of a hospital is also a bone of contention for Barnes: “What is the research they’ve done on needing a hospital on the site? There’s St Thomas hospital on one side and another on the other side. Have they even asked the NHS if they need a hospital? They have hospitals all around!” he said.

 

“Tube lines and hospitals are not what developers usually choose, it’s like they’re just trying to get support. It’s rubbish.”

The Battersea Power Station Company is a registered charity set up to support the maintenance and development of the 1930’s relic. While the organisation has not raised any funds during the advancement of plans by Real Estate Opportunities, Barnes advises that this could change: “We would like to be involved in some aspects of (funding) the power station,” he said. “Also there’s a water station nearby, it’s about 10,000 sq ft of space that could be used for the community.” Plans for a swimming pool, a tourist shop for Battersea Power Station memorabilia or other community uses are being floated for a time when they see fit to seek funding.

In the mean time, Viñoly's new plans will be exhibited for public perusal from Thursday 4th to Saturday 6th June on the Battersea Power Station site. A spokesperson for the site advised that unless dramatic issues are brought up during the consultation, the plans could go to planning as early as July, but it was unlikely planning would complete in less than a year due to the complexity of the plans and the upcoming UK general election. The overall scheme, however is scheduled for completion by 2020 with stage one, consisting of the residential and redevelopment of the Power Station itself taking four years.

Ticknell said: “After two years of consultation, we are confident that we have the right scheme for this crucially important regeneration. Our plans will create a fantastic new place, will restore the status of the power station as a place of glory and will deliver new homes and much needed jobs in a highly sustainable project.”

Editorial


 
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