Battersea Power Station's £9bn makeover ‘takes breath away'

© PA Northern Line Extension

The £9 billion transformation of Battersea Power Station and its surrounding area takes the breath away, according to a key figure behind the redevelopment.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth council, said decades in the “doldrums” were overcome by hatching a plan to connect it to the Tube network and regenerate the wider Nine Elms area.

“In some ways, one needs to pinch oneself from time to time,” he said. “All in my adult lifetime this transformation has happened. Of all the major regeneration areas in London, this has moved at the quickest pace.”

The area will be connected to the London Underground on Monday when new stations at Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station are opened by Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Londoners are being invited to visit an already vibrant riverside quarter. A street festival is taking place next weekend.

The Grade II*-listed power station, which once generated electricity for a fifth of London homes but is now owned by a consortium of Malaysian investors, will reopen next summer.

It will be home to more than 100 shops and restaurants and the “UK campus” of Apple.

The tech giant’s 4,000 employees will access their six floors via iPhone-shaped glass elevators. An Apple megastore is also expected to open, plus a cinema and brands including Hugo Boss, Uniqlo and Jo Malone.

The coal-fired power station closed in 1983. Its four chimneys were rebuilt from scratch, and one will become a 109-metre panoramic viewing platform.

Mr Govindia, a councillor since 1982 and Wandsworth’s Tory leader for the last decade, said: “It was an absolute requirement from the council that the power station had to be restored, and conform with whatever English Heritage or Historic England wanted.

“As far as the chimneys are concerned, they’re sacrosanct. On no account could they be taken out.”

The first phase of the redevelopment, 865 new apartments alongside the power station, opened in 2017, with Sting among the residents.

A further 254 apartments are being built within the power station’s brick walls, with owners including Bear Grylls. Neighbouring apartment blocks by Frank Gehry and Norman Foster will be completed next year.

By 2030 there will be 33,000 people living in the area. Some 4,000 of the 20,000 new homes will be “affordable”.

The Tube link was the “absolute catalyst in creating confidence and connectivity” in Nine Elms, Mr Govindia said. He likened the shape of the site and its 35 parcels of land to an “upturned mutton chop”.

He said: “Various people came and went until now. The power station site is 42 acres but was not big enough to survive ‘out on a limb’. The major transformation always seemed to elude us. It seemed like too big a thing.

“A huge vote of confidence was the decision of the US Government to relocate its embassy from Grosvenor Square to here.”

Simon Murphy, chief executive of Battersea Power Station Development Company, said 2021 had been a “transformational year” in the regeneration of the power station.

“Bringing this London landmark back to life has been challenging and for many I’m sure they thought it would be impossible but with the power station opening its doors next year, the finish line is now in sight, and it is a very proud moment for everyone involved,” he said.

“The Northern Line extension is a gamechanger for Battersea and Nine Elms. It was a fundamental part in the long-term vision for unlocking the potential of these former brownfield sites and creating new homes and jobs.”

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