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Battersea Power Station worth £470m more if flattened

The demolition of Giles Gilbert Scott’s disused Grade II*-listed Battersea Power Station in south London could increase the site value by up to £470 million – it has been claimed

The 15.4 hectare riverside site (pictured) – which has lain empty since it was decommissioned in 1983 – could house an extra 1,200 apartments if demolition of the iconic landmark was permitted, according to property consultancy EC Harris.

The site’s value would consequently increase by £470 million, making redevelopment more likely to happen, claimed the company.

Demolition would wipe out the £500 million sum needed to renovate the world famous brick building and chimneys, according to the research. The same amount would cover both demolition and residential new build construction costs.

Any proposal to completely demolish the Giles Gilbert Scott masterpiece could however take years to push through planning and face significant resistance from campaign groups.

Rafael Viñoly’s £5.5 billion scheme to restore the building as part of a mixed-use masterplan hit the buffers late last year after the project went into administration.

A new owner could purchase the site from administrators Ernst & Young when it goes on sale this spring however it is unclear whether Viñoly’s vision will be resurrected.

In December, the AJ exclusively revealed that Rafael Viñoly was collaborating with KPF on developer Almacantar’s proposal to build a 60,000-seat stadium for Chelsea Football Club at Battersea Power Station.

The collaboration emerged five years after Viñoly was first appointed to work on Battersea Power Station by its former owner Real Estate Opportunities (REO) and one year after he won planning to build 3,400 homes on the site.

It is understood the Chelsea Football Club project could incorporate part of the station within the stadium, requiring partial demolition or alteration of the protected building.

An English Heritage spokesperson said it was ‘entirely feasible’ to redevelop the site and repair and restore the station building.

They said: ‘The viability and execution of any scheme is dependent on many factors and we would refute any suggestion that the listed status of the station is a reason for the failure of the last scheme.

‘The issue here is finance – not a listed building – and the huge values potentially unrealistically being attributed to the site.’

Local architect Keith Garner said:  ‘How is it that so many other large industrial buildings or historic interest have been given new leases of life over the last 20 years or so – the same time frame that three private owners have failed at Battersea?’

He listed Herzog & de Meuron’s transformation of Gilbert Scott’s Bankside Power Station into the Tate Modern, the revival of Dean Clough Mills in Halifax and Renzo Piano’s redevelopment of Turin’s former Fiat factory as examples.

Battersea Power Station was designed by James Theodore Halliday and Giles Gilbert Scott in 1929. The fourth and final chimney was finished in 1955.

 

Postscript: Comment by Mark Farmer, EC Harris head of private residential

 

There is obviously significant emotion attached to the subject of potentially demolishing an iconic part of London’s skyline, however, the time has come for striking the right balance between what is economically sustainable and viable and what respects our built environment heritage. Any attempt to keep the existing power station building has to overcome some key challenges.

Firstly, it is impossible to phase the redevelopment of the power station and once you start the renovation you will need to complete it. We have all witnessed the spectacle of what has happened to the power station’s condition after it was gutted prematurely in 1989 and then work stopped. Starting work again commits any developer to the best part of half a billion pounds going out of the door in one go with probably 2-3 years before any income flows back from that part of the development. In the current funding environment that needs someone with very deep pockets!

Secondly, the financial risks involved in repairing the existing building are significant. Once works are under way there are bound to be unforeseen structural or contamination issues which appear and then add to construction costs and time.

These cash flow and risk issues are potentially just as significant as the lost potential opportunity to add £460 million to the value of the scheme by knocking it down. Obviously the major issue is overcoming the historical English Heritage position. The right answer that respects all viewpoints may well be a compromise between complete demolition and a new build replacement.

 

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