Battersea Powers Ahead – Photos

There was no posting on 1 January. This was because, firstly, December presented a very poor month in which to go and take photos – far too much rain and gloom. Then I got ill over Christmas and New Year with some virus based cough that did the rounds. Finally this was followed by the (quite unrelated) problem of a sceptic toe – caused by an ingrowing toe nail – not the best for walking around taking photos. I am sure that, anyway you all had more interesting things to attend to on 1st January than look at my photographs!

These photos are, in a sense part of a set that may last 20 years – that’s how long the totality of the Nine Elms/ Battersea Power Station redevelopment might take. It really is a vast development site. It covers the whole of the triangle from Chelsea Bridge and Queenstown Road, south to the railway line and east to Vauxhall Station. There are also large areas on the south side of the railway line – including the whole of the New Covent Garden Market – which is being completely rebuilt – almost all the way down to Wandsworth Road – especially again at the Vauxhall Station end.

It was, of course started once in the past – when Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister – but that development fell on poor finances. This time it looks as though it is all (well mostly) going ahead (well for the moment). As soon as one site gets started another old site is put under demolition. Even the New Covent Garden Market – which is only 40-odd years old – is being completely demolished and rebuilt.

It’s a bit difficult walking around at the moment to discern the overall plan – I know there is one for the area closest to the Power Station itself – but I am less sure about the total area. Sometimes it looks as though the object is just to cram in as many building as possible – and sometimes as tall as possible (much as I love skyscrapers). Not all of the architecture is bonny – including the new US Embassy – which at the moment just looks like yet another blue office block. The hording adverts for the adjacent Embassy Gardens talk about a “new diplomatic quarter” – a bit rich given only the new American Embassy – and whilst I understand the Dutch are also to build a new embassy there – it hardly rivals areas like South Kensington.

The next to last of my photos is a somewhat boring picture of site huts – but they are the site huts for the new Battersea Tube Station – and similar work can be found on the Nine Elms Tube Station further to the east. The tunnelling for the extension to the Northern Line will only begin next year, but the work on the two new tube halls has now started. On two of the pictures of the Power Station you can see a new raised conveyor belt system which is to take the spoil from the digging out of the Battersea Tube Hall to the river where is will be transported by barge to Tilbury and end up as new farmland in Essex. The river transportation will save 40,000 lorry movements of this good London clay. The tube extension will cost £1Bn and is being funded by the Battersea Power/Nine Elms commercial development. When the extension of the Northern Line is complete, the Northern Line will get new trains – and not before time.

Next to the St George’s Wharf Tower – the residential skyscraper shown on a couple of the photos are being built two further residential skyscrapers by the Chinese Wanda Corporation – one of them will be taller than the St George’s Wharf Tower.

The picture I have (4th one) of the Bondway Self Storage is the site of the potential Aykon Tower – but since the first occupations of this 50 storey tower are scheduled for autumn 2019, one thinks they will have to get a move on.

There are a number of pictures of the power station itself and you can see that one of the chimneys has already been fully rebuilt, another one is completely demolished ready for rebuilding, and the other two are about half way down. Originally Wandsworth Council Planning Department insisted that each chimney should be demolished and rebuilt one after the other but were happy to change this after seeing the work on the first chimney rebuild, and this will help to speed up the total chimney rebuild time. I don’t know if they really are going to be painted blue as shown on the large poster of one of the power station photographs.

This vast redevelopment area does not appear to be very well planned and may just overdo the number of swanky towers in London. One has to be concerned that it may consequently come to grief before it all gets finished. Anyway this vast area of London rebuild is one that I shall visit again – and more than once – to report on how it is progressing.