Northern Line extension good for luxury developments but not good enough for ‘standard’ Wandsworth residents

Author: Cyril Richert


Northern Line extension – Credit: TfL

As it made national news, you won’t have missed that, for the first time since 2008 with Wood Lane and Heathrow Terminal 5 stations and the Jubilee Line extension in 1999, two new underground stations have been unveiled (commentators often forget that the tube map changed also less than 10 years ago with the overground line, part of the Tube network). This is not as extraordinary as many supporters are claiming, but it will definitely help a lot of people living south of the river, and boost the new area of Nine Elms.

However, it stops short of finishing at Clapham Junction and many local residents wonder why the 3km project between Kennington and Battersea Power station did not make the extra distance (another 3km) to reach the heart of Battersea and benefit existing local residents. Continue reading

With Chinese property developers on the verge of collapse, Nine Elms could become Wandsworth’s nightmare

Author: Cyril Richert


Will Nine Elms Square be delivered? – Image:

In recent days, analysts have been focused on the Chinese property market: it has been revealed a few days ago that the Chinese Property giant Evergrande was sinking under £215bn of debts and has missed at least two payments to its largest creditors.

With fears of bankruptcy, the company announced in September 22nd that they agreed to pay interests on a small part of their liabilities. But with the Chinese property market plunging into turmoil over the difficulties of Evergrande, there has been fears of contagion that could hit London and have dramatic consequences in Nine Elms. Continue reading

Luxury flats replaced by offices as demand plummets in Battersea

Author: Cyril Richert

BatterseaPowerStation_movie5The Malaysian developers of Battersea power station are preparing to replace planned apartments with as much as 1 million sq ft of extra office space, following a slump in the market for luxury homes“, announced the FT on February 24th. It means twice the size of the Gherkin tower in central London. However there are questions raised as the Brexit perspective and the consolidation in the insurance industry is already reducing the need for office space in the City. Continue reading

BBC expose Wandsworth Council allowing a developer to drop all office space from development

Author: Cyril Richert

_One_Nine_Elms__by_CIT_and_Green_Properties_webYesterday night, BBC News (10pm) showed a report from Political Editor Tim Donovan (3’08”) about the permission given to a Chinese developer to double the size of a new luxury hotel in Nine Elms at the expense of office space and the associated jobs.

Developer Dalian Wanda has dropped all 10,000 sqm of office space from its planned riverside development at One Nine Elms in Vauxhall, along with his promise of nearly a thousand new jobs. The space has been replaced by more luxury hotel rooms and private apartments.

The report says that Wandsworth planning documents reveal it will mean at least 400 fewer jobs – nearly half those originally intended – being brought to an economic “opportunity area”. Continue reading

Consultation: Has Wandsworth any protected views?

Author: Cyril Richert

The Council is asking now people to comment on the draft document for local views within the borough. This document aims at defining the different types of view that have some local significance and deserve protection within the borough.

We have doubts on the values of the document as most of it is focused on Nine Elms and the Battersea Power Station, and those views are going to change (as acknowledged in the document). There is no mention at all of Clapham Junction and the views within the Conservation Area (no need to be protected anymore?). Continue reading

A roller coaster for Battersea Power station?

Author: Cyril Richert

Paris-based practice atelier Zundel Cristea (AZC) has won the competition (results announced mid-March 2013) to transform the Battersea power station into a museum. The proposal is based on the Parisian Cité de l’Architecture model, and will present a panorama of architecture and cultural heritage from the Middle Ages to today.

The most notable feature of the project is the integration of a giant roller coaster in the 40,000 sqm of the site, providing a new perspective to the area and the city of London. Continue reading

Nine Elms: some pictures of the project

Author: Cyril Richert

To complete our previous article on the final project in Nine Elms last July and the schemes around the Battersea Power station, I have collected some screen-shot from the movie displayed on the official website to present the project of redevelopment (click on the photos to see bigger).

You can read also comments on the video on Cllr James Cousins’ blog.

In a recent article published by the Wandsworth Guardian, the Mayor of London said that plans to redevelop Battersea Power Station have met with the broad approval, but the scheme needs to offer more affordable housing. Boris Johnson told Real Estate Opportunities (REO), which owns the iconic station site, said the scheme did not comply with the London Plan and he expects the “maximum reasonable amount” of affordable housing.

The opportunity area of Nine Elms

Author: Brian Barnes
[Battersea Power Station Community Group]

Firstly the Mayor talks about the downturn and the fact that the plans are going to take decades to come. What of the decades that have passed, 26 years since the Battersea Power Station was first planned for redevelopment with the promise of thousands of jobs.

It has been such a long time that the HMSO award winning building has been built, become surplus and now demolished.

In the early 1980s the then chief planning officer Mike Tapsell tried to push through a development brief for thousands of homes in Nine Elms.

Outside Wandsworth Borough, in Lambeth, there are flats built at Vauxhall bridge most are luxury flats and a 40 story 600 feet Green Giant block is proposed.

Otherwise the luxury flats at Chelsea bridge are the only others just coming to completion decades later.

There are a massive 3,700 flats proposed at Battersea Power Station all expensive to justify the renovation of the listed building.

Mayor Boris wants 16,000 but where will they be? Covent Garden has a new plan for a food market with 3 giant towers up to 43 stories but the US embassy will not be residential.

I fear that parks and gardens will be built upon to realise these targets making housing estates in the area even denser. For social housing space will be found on existing estates at Patmore and Doddington and Rollo. Already a primary school (John Milton) has been demolished to make way for flats at the Nine Elms Thessaly Road junction.

There is a proposal for 30 story blocks on the gas works next to the Dogs Home which are shelved until the downturn reverses.

None of the large areas of land have been developed with housing only small strips along the river and above Savona Estate are new build with housing.

Therefore it looks like the only housing planned is on the REO land requiring 12,300 to reach the Mayor’s target.

I hope that there will be shopping recreation and a wide riverside walk to give the new residents facilities there might be need of a school?

Local people are very fed up with the time that things take due mainly to speculators holding land back till such time as they can make huge profits.

It looks set to take nearly half a century from the time the Power Station closed in 1983 for the nine Elms area to be developed.

The tube is a total red hearing and will delay the rejuvenation even longer. I don’t think the Mayor said who would pay for the tube line. It is not REO, not The US embassy, not the offices at Vauxhall. He knows who will not be paying but does he say who will. I suppose it will be the taxpayer which does not include REO or the United States. Even Jane Ellison, Tory candidate for Battersea, has misgivings about funding for the Tube line in the latest edition of “In Touch”

Skyscrapers in New Covent Garden (Nine Elms)

Author: Cyril Richert

Invitation-NCGAThe New Covent Garden Authority has unveiled its plans to redevelop New Covent Garden in a Public Exhibition opening November 4th (preview from Monday, 2nd).

The Garden is a 57 acre site in Nine Elms in the London Borough of Wandsworth, immediately adjacent to the border of the London Borough of Lambeth.New Covent Garden Market is the largest fresh produce market in the UK. It is a wholesale market with almost 240 tenants including traditional wholesalers of fruit, vegetables and flowers and the highest concentration of catering distributors in the country. The Market is also home to over 30 Flower Market wholesalers.

The redevelopment of New Covent Market is taken place within the bigger plan covering Nine Elms and battersea Power Station. It aims to improve the design back in 1974, which shows several issues:

  • Ageing buildings: the new market will provide modern materials and proper provision for IT into each unit.
  • Inflexible trading units: the new units will be of modular construction to allow maximum flexibility in their size.
  • Poor circulation: internal road, parking and delivery facilities will be improved to reduce the potential for congestion.
  • Out-of-date servicing: consideration is being given to the provision of centralised energy and recycling facilities.
  • Drainage issues: prevent flooding and provide proper drainage facilities.
  • Too spread out: the market will use less land, thus freeing space to pay for the redevelopment without public fund (making available the 10 acres of the current Flower Market site, which will be relocated in the main site).

Private development

The main area proposed for redevelopment is the current Flower Market site (10 acres), to include:

  • Two new public squares
  • New shops and commercial space
  • 1,800 new homes

Buildings alongside Nine Elms Lane will range from 8 to 10 storeys, arranged around courtyard gardens open to the river with wonderful views of Chelsea, Westminster and the City.

To the East, they propose three buildings of varied height, the tallest of which could be 46 storeys in height (one of the three taller buildings could also include a new hotel).

We understand that planning policy specifically supports taller buildings in some areas of Nine Elms redevelopment. However we could raise some objections regarding the size of the tallest buildings:

1. Impact on the House of Parliament: Depending on whether those skyscrapers are residential or mix-used offices, the height will be between 155 and 200m. It will echo the concerns raised with the previous plan to raise a 250m glass tower beside Battersea Power station; at the time, opponents (including English Heritage) said: “The impact of the new tower on the Houses of Parliament and the Westminster World Heritage Site will be disastrous“.

2. Public inquiry: The UK government has been criticised by UNESCO recently for failing to protect World Heritage Sites from unsympathetic development. The Tower of London and the Westminster World Heritage Sites – both threatened by new tall buildings – were singled out by UNESCO for special mention. Following UNESCO’s criticisms, planning procedures are being improved to give World Heritage Sites in the UK greater protection (see also the Battersea Bulletin of November last year who campaigned against the Dyson Tower). There will be tighter regulations for proposals having an impact on World Heritage Sites, which means that undoubtedly the proposed skyscrapers for New Covent Garden will be decided by public inquiry.

In addition, King Sturge will be acting as planning advisor for the scheme. Some might remember that they over-looked the application for the two 42-storey towers at CJ station. Are they trying to re-use their failed planning?

New Covent garden redevelopment: Aerial view-annoted

Vauxhall TowerThe proposed skyscrapers might seat beside the Vauxhall tower (180m – 48 floors) which already received planning permission from John Prescott, UK’s former deputy Prime Minister (against the advice of his own civil servants). It is important to remember that at the time, the proposal was only supported by Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, and the government’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment-CABE. As it was facing strong opposition from everywhere else, Livingston went to threaten Lambeth Council to make legal action if they refuse his decision.

Keith Garner, from the Battersea Power Station Community Group, said:

This area is extremely sensitive to tall buildings due to the curve of the river, and even a building a third of the height of the Dyson (250m) will be seen above the Palace of Westminster. So there actually needs to be very strict controls on heights here.

Whilst there should be height controls along the river frontage and on the lowland, there may be a case for intensification of development away from the river and further up the hill towards Wandsworth Road. But this would need to be tested out by means of a topographical study.[1]

Peter Deakins (who presented plans for Clapham Junction area) is showing similar concerns, saying:

As far as can be established, no local Authority has provided detailed plans for all of the possible changes to the overall physical framework of the whole Nine Elms area that may be possible or desirable and this must be a cause of considerable concern.

After all, the area – stretching as it does from Vauxhall Railway Station to Battersea Park and including the Battersea Power Station – is as big as St James’s Park. Many existing and probable future urban features and needs exist and these could, and should, be properly exploited by being incorporated within very thorough overall plans.

Approval of new skyscrapers in New Covent Garden area will not only make a fool of Boris Johnson who said previously: “When I look at some of the plans for the 27 phallocratic towers that Ken wants to erect in the suburbs, I wonder whether we have learned anything from the experience of the last 50 years.“ It will also encourage the use of Vauxhall for developing 150-200m skyscrapers, changing definitely the London skyline in the next 10 years.

[1] In order to help the Council of Wandsworth to define some guidelines on tall buildings, we have published a joint statement on planning policy on tall buildings in the London Borough of Wandsworth.