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150m tower to rise in Battersea

by Ross Lydall
  Evening Standard 2 November 2009

Three tower blocks - two taller than Battersea power station's chimneys - could help fund a transformation of New Covent Garden Market.

The blocks form the centrepiece of plans for 1,800 homes on the vast redevelopment at Nine Elms in Battersea that will allow the wholesale flowers, fruit and veg market to open its doors to the public for the first time.

A key part of the market upgrade involves creating an offshoot called the Garden Heart, envisaged as a rival to the gourmet delights of Borough Market.

But the tower blocks could prove the most contentious part of the application. The towers will be 25, 35 and 46 storeys - the biggest rising to 150 metres (492 feet) - and will form part of a residential scheme designed by Lord Foster, the architect responsible for the Gherkin and the Millennium bridge.

The power station's chimneys are 103 metres. The building is due to be transformed into London's first zero-carbon office space under separate plans.

The third part of the area's regeneration will see the American embassy move into a new building beside the rebuilt market in 2016.

The New Covent Garden Market Authority wants to integrate the flower market, currently separated by railway tracks, with the fruit and veg market while upgrading facilities that are 35 years old. It needs to sell the new homes to fund the market redevelopment.

The authority's plans go out for public consultation this week, with a detailed application for the 57-acre site due to go before Wandsworth council next year.

The authority believes the scheme is in line with a planning vision for Nine Elms unveiled last week by Mayor Boris Johnson. Cafés, restaurants, shops and two public squares are also planned for the area.

The market, moved from Covent Garden in 1974, supplies 40 per cent of all food eaten outside the home in London. It has an annual turnover of £606 million, sells 350 varieties of fruit and vegetables, and provides a base for more than 2,500 traders.

Baroness Dean, chairman of the market authority, said: "Our priority is to provide a new market for our tenants but our vision is much broader. The new homes, shops, commercial space and public squares will also act as a catalyst for the wider regeneration of the Nine Elms area."

Date posted: 4 November 2009