Money Questions raised over Battersea Power Station

19:06  18 june  2017
19:06  18 june  2017 Source:   Sky News

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Questions were raised in Parliament about pollution which might harm the paintings in the nearby Tate Gallery and the parks and "noble buildings of London". Now Battersea Power Station is one of the best loved landmarks after serving London with electricity for 50 years.

Battersea Power Station is London's newest neighbourhood, a truly mixed-use destination.

General view of Battersea Power Station in south west London, where they have been dismantling then rebuilding the four chimneys as part of the redevelopment of the 1930s power station. © PA General view of Battersea Power Station in south west London, where they have been dismantling then rebuilding the four chimneys as part of the redevelopment of the 1930s power station.  The cage that hoists you to the top of the north west chimney of Battersea Power station, 102 metres high, stops with a shudder. 

Clamber out and you see a wide and telling view. You're eye level with the three other famous chimneys; around you, the cavernous, hollow interior of the turbine hall and switch houses; below, three thousand builders on site, a hive of activity; and following the flow of Thames up to Vauxhall, a mess of crane-strewn sites, the biggest redevelopment project in Europe.

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Battersea Power Station is undergoing huge redevelopment but will it do much for Londoners or is it geared towards foreign buyers? I question whether that's the case. "One of the most intense areas of that rash is behind me at Nine Elms.

I'm here to see the finishing touches put, by hand, to the chimney. One of the conditions for redeveloping the power station was keeping the power station.

They were in bad shape, so they were laser scanned, demolished, then rebuilt - using the same technique as their original construction in the 1930s.

Battersea Power Station chimneys © Sky News Screen Grab Battersea Power Station chimneys  That means hauling 6,000 wheelbarrows worth of concrete up the hoist, then pouring it into metal frames by hand.

"It's an absolutely massive, iconic project for the location," says Mike Grice, chief construction officer of Battersea Power Station.

"It's a driver for the whole of this regeneration of Nine Elms."

Nothing much was happening here before; the power station itself was decommissioned in 1975. Two years later, it featured on a Pink Floyd album cover.

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The Battersea Power Station companies shall not supply it to third parties who have no association with Battersea Power Station . Battersea Roof Gardens view over Malaysia Square.

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Now, thousands of homes are being built and businesses are moving in. The first premises open this summer. Apple will relocate its headquarters there once the whole site is complete.

Battersea Power Station is undergoing huge redevelopment © Getty Battersea Power Station is undergoing huge redevelopment  

Good news? Not everyone thinks so.

Writing in the London Review of Books, John Lanchester describes the Nine Elms area as "a chaotic patchwork of architectural ambition, developers' greed and mostly well-meaning but always overmatched local councils".

Peter Rees, the former planner of the City of London, is even more forthright.

Standing on the banks of the northern side of the river, he tells Sky News: "London is currently covered by a rash of development that the politicians describe as being the creation of homes. I question whether that's the case.

"One of the most intense areas of that rash is behind me at Nine Elms. Immediately behind me you have St George's Tower, which is widely rumoured to be a home for Russian ill-gotten capital - a laundry you might say.

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Battersea Power Station . An icon of British architecture reflecting a more industrial age currently being restored to house over 2 million sq ft of retail, leisure, offices and new homes.

REO’s proposed tower next to Battersea Power Station site will have a devastating impact on the Houses of Parliament, if it is given planning permission. Having HBOS as its principal financial backer raises further questions about the economic viability of REO’s scheme.

"And then more or less next to it we've got the American embassy, a fortified bunker for the US, still surrounded by some of its bubble wrap.

Battersea Power Station archive photo © Sky News Screen Grab Battersea Power Station archive photo  "And further up the river, Battersea Power Station being expensively restored, rebuilt - and it's a monument after all to a decade of pollution and Pink Floyd.

"Those three landmarks epitomise what's actually happening in London: it's not do to with the creation of homes. It's iconic buildings for property developers to maximise their development return, to maximise their profit.

"And in between them we've got these blocks of real estate which the politicians describe as homes but which are in fact simply investment ready - they're piles of safety deposit boxes."

The only corrective, in Mr Rees's view, is a massive collapse in house prices - something that brings its own risks.

From 100 metres up, on the temporary platform surrounding the last chimney to be completed, what you see is a moment in time - a glimpse of London's future, yet to be decided.

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