South West London

News, events, tips and advice on SW London

Archive for Cultural Icon

South West London Icon in jeopardy? The uncertain future of Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station, Wandsworth

Battersea Power Station, Wandsworth

We took to the streets of Battersea in South West London this weekend to photograph the stunning industrial riverside panoramas the area has in abundance.

The wharf-side landscape of modern and period buildings is a rich and poignant one, the scenery telling the story of a region historically subject to huge and frequent change. A once heavily industrial area is now dominated by luxury apartments and award winning architecture.

Lodged incongruously amongst steel spires and glass turrets is the iconic Battersea Power Station.  Built between 1929 and 1953 and designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the brain behind the red telephone box, the site revolutionised power supply in the UK and is the largest brick building in London.

Quick fire technological advances and pollution concerns led the station to cease all production by 1983.  Since then, a tug of war has been taking place between developers keen to clear and rebuild on the site and those campaigning to protect and maintain the listed building.  Numerous plans for redeveloping the site have fallen through for a variety of reasons.

With the Olympic year upon us, the ecological concerns ever present and the debate still fresh, what will become of the station? 

Here are some of the rumours and plans currently connected with the site.

  1. 1.       Luxury apartments

Probably the most lucrative venture would be to demolish Battersea Power Station in order to build and sell luxury apartments on the site.  The region is highly desirable and there are numerous similar developments on the banks of the Thames.  However, the cultural and historical value of the site has led to widespread opposition to such ventures, and the Station’s Grade II* listed status prevents the site from being completely cleared.

  1. 2.       Affordable Housing

The space created by the station’s demolition would also in theory provide space for a large number of affordable homes, thus easing the strain of overcrowding in London.

  1. 3.       A state of the art football stadium

Chelsea FC are rumoured to be interested in purchasing the site and building a state of the art stadium with retractable roof.  The rumours are as yet unconfirmed, and it is also uncertain whether the station building would be retained or demolished.

  1. 4.       An iconic new rail terminus and shopping centre

Under a series of proposed extensions to the London Underground’s Northern Line, Battersea Power Station could become the terminus of a new extension of the line into South West London.  Under this scheme, the station building would be kept intact and redeveloped, and a local shopping and recreation centre would be created.

  1. 5.       A cultural centre

Reincarnations as a shopping centre, gallery, venue and cinema have all been mooted.  The Battersea Power Station Community has suggested a local hub comprising all of the above along with parkland and plazas.

  1. 6.       Allotments

A number of eco-friendly proposals have been made, including turning the space into a park, allotments or a renewable energy plant.

Can you suggest a new use for the emblematic South West London site?  Post your ideas here or on our Facebook or Twitter sites.