New sequence agreed for chimney rebuild

Published: 24 July 2013

Battersea Power Station’s chimneys are to be taken down and rebuilt in a faster sequence after Wandsworth Council agreed the change at the July 23 planning committee.

In 2011 Wandsworth and English Heritage approved plans for each of the decayed chimneys to be rebuilt after engineering studies showed all four were beyond repair. The approved plan included a legal agreement stipulating they must be rebuilt one at a time.

The committee has now approved a 'deed of variation' to that legal agreement which means a different sequence will be used. The revised approach will see one chimney taken down and then rebuilt to a height of 25 metres. At this point work can also start get underway on all three of the remaining chimneys.

No changes are being made to the design of the chimneys, all four of which will be constructed according to the original architecture plans so that they match the appearance of the originals.

The developer estimates that working on three chimneys in tandem will mean the power station restoration will be completed two years earlier.

Works to the listed building is expected to start in October this year. The first chimney is scheduled to come down in early 2014 and all four could be fully rebuilt in 2017.

A new safeguard has also been added to the legal agreement which requires the developer to provide a bond for the full value of the chimney works contract before the project can get underway. The council will be able to use this bond to pay for the completion of the project if for any reason the developer failed to finish the chimney works.

Nick Cuff, Wandsworth Council's planning chairman, said: "This is a commonsense change which gives us greater certainly over the scheme's completion and means the building's restoration can be finished earlier. It's win, win.

"When the first chimney starts to come down it will send another signal to London that the site's revival is powering ahead. We are all looking forward to the moment when all four have been fully rebuilt and this magnificent building is safe from collapse.

"The owners have agreed to provide a financial guarantee for the project so there is no reason for the council to insist on such a slow process. We want to let them crack on with the restoration and bring thousands of new jobs to Nine Elms."

View the application online at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/planning - reference number 2013/3076.

About Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station is a privately owned Grade II* Listed Building which has reached a dangerous state of disrepair. It was decommissioned almost 30 years and is now on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register.

In 2011 Wandsworth Council and English Heritage approved plans to restore Battersea Power Station and replace its four severely decayed chimneys which are approaching the end of their intended lifespan and are beyond repair.

The project, which is backed by the Mayor of London and the UK Government, will see each chimney rebuilt using the same material (reinforced concrete) and working to the original architectural plans. Their appearance will be as close to the original as possible.

The damaged structure of the power station building will be restored, including repairs to the external brickwork, washtowers, the steel frame and the windows. As a listed building project, the work will be strictly specified and monitored to ensure an accurate historical match with the original features.

Once structurally secured, the building will be refurbished to create a vast mixed use complex including exhibition spaces, galleries, shops, leisure facilities, bars, cafes and restaurants. The surviving heritage features within the buildings interior will be restored and preserved.

Chimney condition

All four chimneys, which are made from layers of reinforced concrete, have deep cracks in many places and fragmented surfaces. There are also splits between the layers of concrete which make up the chimney structures.

They are now approaching the end of their intended lifespan and tests show that the concrete now has high chloride content, is carbonated in places and the steel reinforcements are corroded.

Following successive engineering studies Wandsworth Council and English Heritage agree that none of the chimneys could be repaired to a lasting and safe standard. The risk of concrete falling is too great and they would need an unrealistic level of on-going maintenance and repair to prevent them from deteriorating. As a result there are related public safety issues and potential difficulties in obtaining adequate insurance.