Last edited 08 Aug 2016

Battersea power station

Battersea.jpg

During the 1920s, small power stations built by private companies supplied electricity for individual industries with any surplus energy going to the public supply. This led to a chaotic situation and so parliament decreed that electricity generation should be a single, unified system under public ownership.

The London Power Company was formed in 1925 which followed with the construction of the first super power station producing 400,000 kilowatts in Battersea.

Battersea Power Station is one of Britain’s most famous buildings in one of London’s most prominent riverside locations. The building was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and J. Theo Halliday. It was a coal-fired power station with a steel girder frame and exterior brick cladding and was in effect two power stations.

Construction of Station A began in 1929. Station B did not become operational in 1953. All four chimneys were completed by 1955 which made the power station the largest brick building in Europe.

In 1975, Station A was closed after 40 years in operation and in 1983, the power station ceased producing electricity altogether. The Electricity Board had planned to demolish the building and sell off the land to provide much needed revenue. However, this was not possible after Grade II listing was conferred on the building in 1980 in recognition of its Art Deco splendour.

For a long period following decommissioning, the power station stood derelict whilst numerous redevelopment options were considered.

A competition was held in 1983 to encourage developers to submit ideas for the site, retaining the power station superstructure. From the short-listed 10 schemes, the chosen idea for a theme park was selected. The site was purchased in 1987 and construction began on the theme park, however with rapidly escalating costs, work ceased in 1989 leaving the site semi-derelict.

Plans were re-submitted for offices, a hotel and shops to be constructed around the power station, which were subsequently granted. However, no work was undertaken and in 1993, the Bank of America purchased the site on behalf of a Hong Kong based development company.

In 2006, it was announced that Real Estate Opportunities had purchased the site and surrounding land but in 2011, their plans for the site collapsed.

In 2011 Wandsworth Council granted planning permission for a mixed use development, and in February 2012 the site was put up for sale on the open market. In September 2012, the Malaysian companies SP Setia and Sime Darby purchased the land for redevelopment.

Construction began in 2013 to transform the building into a new community of homes, workspaces, shops, restaurants and cultural venues along with 18 acres of public open space. The plans also include the restoration of the Power Station superstructure itself including restoration of the internal and external art deco structure, reconstruction of the chimneys and refurbishment of the historic cranes and jetty. The plans include more than 800 homes of varying sizes with the development being undertaken in seven main phases. Phase I began in 2013 and is due to complete in 2016/17.

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