Terry Farrell & Partners, the internationally renowned architect-planners, have released a statement confirming they intend to submit a listed building application for Battersea Power Station at their own cost, on the same day that Wandsworth Council have granted planning consent for their Embassy Gardens masterplan in Nine Elms.
Farrells are assembling a team of expert consultants in order to preserve the iconic parts of the crumbling power station and save it from demolition, which has appeared increasingly likely ever since the owners went into administration towards the end of last year. The team includes Alan Baxter, who has had various roles within English Heritage and specialises in conservation issues as well as being a structural engineer.
Most people within the property industry accept that the hugely prohibitive costs of refurbishing the power station make it unviable and that this option is no longer on the table. Shortly after the previous owners went into administration, Farrells published their own scheme which retained the front and back walls and art deco control rooms whilst creating a landscaped park in the middle.
If the application receives consent, Farrells will not own the rights to it as it will go with the land and whoever buys the site. Sir Terry, who is Design Advisor to the Mayor of London, Former Commissioner of English Heritage and Former Chair of their London Advisory Committee, believes that this is the only way to unblock this important site whilst preserving the cherished parts of the power station.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Sir Terry said: “Giles Gilbert Scott [original designer of Battersea Power Station] is one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century and to bring this monumental temple alive again would be incredibly exciting. I believe that submitting a listed building application is the only way forward now, in order to preserve the iconic parts of the power station and unblock the ‘bigness’ that has thwarted all previous attempts to redevelop it.
"The cost of repairs will be confined solely to the end towers and chimneys (which will be kept and not demolished or replaced). This cost will be in the order of £25m against the estimated cost of repairing the entire building which for previous schemes would have been in the order of £90m. The cost of the new park, water features and new elements is estimated at £18m which is significantly different to the cost of new uses and development as proposed by the consented scheme which would have been in the order of £600m.
"The stunning art deco control rooms will be retained and celebrated in their existing positions without being meaninglessly and mindlessly subsumed and overwhelmed by shopping malls, or football terraces or along corridors off a conference centre. Their heroic position in these proposals will heighten their value – after all no-one suggests they could be control rooms again and so they should be, as it were, ‘objet trouvé’. To be kept as artefacts in a beautiful landscape setting would be a truly memorable and fitting way of celebrating this important part of our industrial heritage."