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Battersea Power Station: Preserving an Eyesore?

Opinion

No big surprises there; someone had to start redevelopment sometime, but the bit that caught my attention was that the chimneys will be knocked down and replaced with replicas.

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Martin Barratt

By Martin Barratt

When John Broome had the site, intending to build a theme park, he demolished the roof and the west wall, before he realised that the building had virtually no foundations, and the economic downturn forced him to sell up. Since then numerous other developers have tried to put a scheme together, but the constraints applied by English Heritage have made every one fail from a financial perspective.

When it was built in 1933 Londoners said that it was an eyesore that Battersea Power Stationspewed pollution. Phase 2 was opened in 1952, but then the plant was decommissioned in 1983, only 50 years after phase 1 was completed.

It has appeared in films and as the backdrop for some giant inflatable pigs, but does that justify its protection? It was ugly when it was built and it is ugly now. When the redevelopment is complete less than half of it will be original and we can safely assume that the development will cost its new owners far more than if it was an empty site, increasing the risk that the project will fail. So what exactly are English Heritage trying to protect?

Why are we preserving an ugly, poorly built hulk when we could knock it down and allow the building of a well designed development, built for purpose?

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