Battersea Power Station Chimneys Could Be Demolished

Photo by Nigel Bewley

Photo by Nigel Bewley

The company masterminding the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station has applied to Wandsworth council for permission to demolish three of the building’s chimneys.

As part of the original redevelopment plan, the four chimneys were to be rebuilt one at a time. However, the Battersea Power Station Development Company, which represents the site’s Malaysian owner, now wants to remove three at the same time, in order to reduce the predicted timescale for Battersea’s rebuild by 18 months. They would only do this once the first of the new chimneys had been constructed, with the other three being rebuilt in time for the project’s completion.

The future of Battersea’s chimneys is one of the most contentious aspects of the entire project. The Battersea Power Station Community Group, which is opposed to the development, has long argued that the original chimneys could in fact be repaired, and that once removed they might never return, for example if the company were to go bust (not an unprecedented event where Battersea is concerned).

A decision is expected in August. Read more about the plans on Wandsworth council’s website.

Pictures from a climb to the top of the chimneys

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  • The Perfumed Dandy

    One can’t help but be concerned that once demolished these London landmarks would never reappear, making a nonsense of both the listing system and the decades of attempts to sympathetically develop this site.
    If only this decision were vested in a planning authority that inspired more confidence…

    • MattFromLondonist

      It’s certainly a risk. But it’s probably in the developer’s long-term financial interest to restore the chimneys. I’d have thought it’d be much easier and more lucrative to sell homes and commercial units around the intact power station than one with its chimneys removed.

      • Di

        Maybe I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that they already sold many of the units. Seems sneaky to change the renovation plans after the units have already been reserved.

        • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

          The residences sold thus far are for some of the new developments in and around the site, not in the power station itself.

          • Di

            Ah – I see. Thanks for the clarification.

      • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

        This is true. But if the company behind it goes under they’ll have no obligation to restore the chimneys. Unlikely, perhaps, but we’ve been here before.

        • dan of battersea

          Is that not slightly disingenuous? You are correct in that the company folds they will not be done. But the Wandsworth BC website points out that the legal amendment that would have to be sought before the sequence of replacement could be altered would include a clause committing the development company to the paying of a bond to the value of the work to value of the work to replace the chimneys to avoid such a scenario.

  • MB

    I actually think the chimneys are the least attractive part of the power station, and that if they were gone it would sortof not be the end of the world. Perhaps I am alone in thinking that. However, if they were replaced by more decorative spires or towers it might be nice.

    • Claire McConville

      You’re obviously not a Battersea person, making a comment like that!

  • jeremy_inc

    So they always were going to demolish all the chimneys, but now they want to do 3 at a time to save 1.5 years? What’s the problem? Why is the title “could be” demolished when they “definitely will and always were going to be” demolished?

    • Guest

      Hi, thanks for this great page of links and information. I’m currently working with a group in Battersea, on a short experimental film about the power station. It might have something to reflect about these chimneys and if possible I will send you or anyone interested an invitation to the preview (possibly in September).

  • Ellen

    Hi, thanks for this great page of links and information. I’m currently working with a group in Battersea, on a short experimental film about the power station. It might have something to reflect about these chimneys and if possible I will send you or anyone interested an invitation to the preview (possibly in September). Thanks

  • Claire Bolger

    As a listed building, I am appalled that it is even being considered! This structure is, I believe, one of the most unique buildings in London. It is powerful, strong and beautiful, all at the same time; an architectural testament to LONDON! Leave it alone – PLEASE!

    • Claire McConville

      Absolutely! Spot on, Claire!

  • kjdd

    I hear the malaysian company are planning to burn palm oil at the powerstation which is obviously the major cause of deforestation and destruction of habitat in that area of the world, also it is actually not going to be good for us being burnt here… in more ways than one,… its not good. They seem to think cracks in the towers is a major structural problem, but I heard concrete on that scale often has these ‘faults’ anyway if they really do need replacing, it is very worrying that they want to change the agreement, from replacing them one at a time to three.

    The original ruination of Battersea Powerstation,.. the biggest brick structure in europe I might add,.. in the Thatcher administration, involved basically gutting the place of wall to wall priceless black marble which bizarrely disappeared into someones pockets and removing the roof, so the elements got to its core and has left us with the rotting iron structure inside we have today.

    In the last few yrs the Lots Rd powerstation, same famous architect, nearby on the banks of the river at chelsea, had its roof removed before its developers went bust! It also used to have four chimneys and now has two. Oh and it has permission to be demolished for the usual riverside architecturally deficient flats. A crime that has occured repeatedly through history I’m afraid.

    I have no confidence in authorities protecting these beautiful irreplaceable historical artifacts, while developers seek to make shortcuts and squeeze everyone into a monotony of inadequate yet expensive spaces. If the plans are fully honoured we still end up with our cathedral to brick surrounded by the greedy encroachment of ‘luxury flats’ no doubt for foreigners not paying any tax as with other luxury developments, the views of this majestic building will be gone and apparently the powerstation with its probably over white and shiny new replica chimneys will be pumping out noxious gases again! whats not to like!?

    • Claire McConville

      It’s truly disgusting that they can do away with anything they like in the name of financial gain! What’s the point of buildings being listed? when all they do is leave them to fall into disrepair and then use the excuse that they are structurally unsafe and pull them down!