Not going in protest at level of social housing in the scheme
Battersea Power Station. Picture: Charlie Round-Turner
Wandsworth Labour councillors are saying they won’t turn up to the opening of Battersea Power Station after raising concerns about the development’s low level of social housing.
The borough’s new Labour administration said it is not planning on attending the event next week and will focus on building 1,000 new council homes for locals.
The £9 billion redevelopment project in Battersea includes the revamp of the iconic Grade II listed power station, which is opening to the public for the first time on October 14. The scheme also includes thousands of new homes, shops, bars, restaurants, cafés, offices, a pedestrianised high street and more than 19 acres of public space.
But Wandsworth Labour – who won control of the council from the Conservatives for the first time in 44 years in May – has long criticised the level of affordable housing in the scheme, which stands at 9per cent after being cut from 15pc. A recent council report also revealed there are more than 3,500 families who are statutorily homeless in the borough.
Conservative councillors questioned attendance during a finance committee meeting on September 29. After Mark Maidment, the council’s interim chief executive, revealed there were no plans for Labour councillors or officers to attend, Conservative councillor Peter Graham said the decision was “extremely surprising”.
Mr Maidment replied: “I think Councillor Graham you’re well aware that the administration has expressed its concerns, both in opposition and now, particularly around social housing or lack of social housing in that development. The leader expressed those concerns and has had discussions with Battersea Power Station and at this moment, while those discussions are going on, there are no plans currently in place.”
Opposition councillors have since hit out at the party and slammed the move as “totally unacceptable”. Conservative councillor Mark Justin said: “Nine Elms is a fantastic area to live and work, but there is still much of the regeneration to finish. If the council doesn’t engage with and value this community, the concern is that residents and businesses will continue to live and work amongst building sites much longer than they have to.”
But Wandsworth Council said the authority had been clear that neither the new administration nor senior council officers will “accept hospitality from property developers”. A council spokesperson added: “There are currently numerous live planning applications from Battersea Power Station that are still to be determined so it wouldn’t be right to accept this hospitality.
“In Wandsworth, the council is focused on building 1,000 new council homes for local people and their families.”
A Battersea Power Station Development Company spokesperson said everyone is welcome to the opening of the power station which has laid derelict for 40 years after “multiple failed attempts” at restoration.
“We are creating a place for people – a new town centre for the borough of Wandsworth – with shops, restaurants, playgrounds and parks for all to enjoy, as well as a new Tube station, towards which Battersea Power Station has contributed over £300 million,” they said.
“An additional 2,500 new jobs will be created once the power station and Electric Boulevard, a new pedestrianised high street for the local community, opens next week, with new global office tenants bringing their workforce to the borough.
“A ‘Festival of Power’ is being held from October 14 to 16 and October 22 to 23 in celebration, which will be a free family-friendly event with lots of live performances from local artists and musicians. We look forward to welcoming the first visitors, and showing the local community, Londoners, and the rest of the world, the historic beauty of the Grade II listed building, which has been transformed into a unique destination for many generations to come to enjoy.”
Charlotte Lilywhite - Local Democracy Reporter
October 7, 2022