Trust in Battersea, not plodding Parkview
I write in response to the letter from Ian Rumgay of Parkview International about the inclusion of Battersea Power Station on the World Monuments Fund's List of 100 Most Endangered Sites (AJ 2.10.03).
Rumgay considers English Heritage, as the government's advisor on national monuments, 'best placed to decide which are the most endangered'. The trouble with this argument is that EH is no more convinced with Parkview's custodianship of Battersea Power Station than is the WMF. Battersea Power Station appears on EH's own register of buildings at risk, where its condition is described as 'very bad'.
As EH's six monthly inspection reports make clear, Parkview has done nothing beyond the most basic maintenance in over 10 years. Its programme proceeds at a snail's pace, casting doubt on the seriousness of its intentions to do development work. Enabling works, which have been going on since 2002, will take a further 12 months. Now it seems the main works will not start until 2005, continuing the 'year after next' line that Parkview has been putting out since the mid-90s.
It was because of this continual procrastination, while the building deteriorated, that Battersea Power Station Community Group (BPSCG) nominated the building for inclusion on the World Monuments Fund's List of 100 Most Endangered Sites.
BPSCG's application was sponsored by Alf Dubs, Lord Dubs of Battersea, and we are all very pleased that the WMF has decided to include the building on the list for the next two years.
In his recent speech to the WMF, Alf Dubs put forward the idea of a new deal for Battersea Power Station, in which Parkview surrenders the freehold to a public-interest trust. A trust organisation of this kind could go to the Lottery and other sources of funding not available to Parkview, and could arrange for repairs to be carried out.
Parkview would have a lease on parts of Battersea Power Station and the surrounding site.However, large parts of the building would be freed up for public use.
With the task of repair seemingly beyond Parkview, the leaseback idea is worth investigating further. EH should perhaps commission a feasibility study, looking at the organisational structure of the new trust, likely sources of funding, and the works that would need to be done.
Keith Garner, London SW11