Battersea Power Station closed as a power plant in 1975 and has since seen a variety of development proposals including theme park, shopping mall, and residential development, that never left the planning stage.
Will today’s application from Irish developers Treasury Holdings break that pattern? The proposal is for a £5.5 billion residential complex, including 3,700 homes, shops, restaurants, offices and a riverside park, as well as public access to restored areas inside the former power plant.
They have pledged to save the Grade II listed building, and create a ‘low-carbon environment’ that would provide affordable housing and up to 15,000 local jobs.
However, for the development to be a success it is crucial that the Northern Line is extended to create new stops at Nine Elms and Battersea, and despite support from Mayor Boris Johnson, there is no current prospect of this being funded by the TfL.
But is Battersea is worth saving? Sure the building is iconic, but repairing thirty years of decay is a highly expensive and complicated task that would likely require permanent maintenance.
Retrofitting Battersea to create a ‘low-carbon environment’ is more complex than what would be required for a new build, and will ultimately never be as environmentally friendly as a new building would be.
We may have an emotional connection to Battersea, but is it time to leave that in the past and turn the site into a new icon for 21st century London?