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Affordable housing assurances sought for power station plans

by Paul Cahalan
Wandsworth Guardian 18 June 2009

  Assurances sought over power station

Plans for affordable housing in the latest designs for the Battersea Power Station site have been questioned by a borough community group and MP.

In the new plans from Real Estate Opportunities (REO), owners of the 38-acre site, a 750ft tower has been replaced with several shorter residential buildings.

As well as commercial and retail space, the scheme includes designs for 3,700 new houses, but how many will be given over to affordable housing remains unclear. REO said there would be less allocated as it was paying to fund a new Tube station at Battersea at an estimated cost of 400m.

REO said it had "very positive" reaction from more than 700 people who attended a public exhibition unveiling the new designs last week.

A spokesman said: "We intend to deliver a balanced community, with a mix of uses which will create a fantastic place at the heart of Nine Elms. The residential component of the masterplan is the subject of ongoing discussions with Wandsworth Council, The level of affordable housing will depend on the outcome of these discussions and will have regard to many issues including the viability of the project, which will of course reflect the need for a substantial financial contribution towards improving public transport in the area through an extension to the Northern line and the other costs associated with bringing the power station and surrounding site into public use."

The Battersea Power Station Community Group queried REO's assertion the new terracing was in the mould of London's Georgian architect John Nash.

"Nothing could he further from the elegant Georgian terraces in London than these bog-standard blocks," a spokesman said, adding the buildings were similar to riverside developments at Battersea Reach.

The group also had reservations whether plans to insert windows along the side of the Grade II* listed icon would get past conservation groups.

It added: "Our big worry is the tacit ambition to get the station demolished, the first being an assault on the reasonably sound chimneys [which are due to be demolished next year]."

An REO spokesman responded it was committed to conserving the power station.

The Battersea Society welcomed the idea of a Tube station and noted "artfully curved" walking routes from the Tube to the power station which would allow it to "come into view only at the last moment".

It added, a lack of an affordable housing commitment was " worrying".

Martin Linton, Battersea MP, said the plans were "a move in the right direction" but there must be guarantees of communal facilities, including schools, nurseries and open spaces.

He added "I will press for affordable housing to be included in any new housing development. This may become a prestige address, next to the American Embassy, but we want to make sure this is a mixed development, not just luxury housing."

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Date posted: 20 June 2009