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Developer pledges early appointment on Battersea scheme

The developer behind ambitious plans for the derelict Battersea Power Station site wants to have a main contractor on board by the start of 2011 – more than a year before it plans to start work on the £4 billion regeneration scheme.

Real Estate Opportunities – which is managed by Irish developer Treasury Holdings – said it wants a construction firm involved as soon the as outline proposal is approved to assist with detailed designs.

The developer has unveiled a mixed-use, carbon-zero masterplan for the 15.4 ha Thames-side site, which has been vacant for 25 years after two separate bids to redevelop the land failed.

The proposal involves building a 300 m-high “chimney” and eco-dome, designed by Rafael Vinoly. It is anticipated the plans will be put to the authorities later this year and go before a public inquiry in 2009.

Treasury Holdings managing director Rob Tincknell said: “Assuming that our proposal is warmly received, we would be looking for a contractor for the start of 2011.

“We want to try to get a contractor on board as early as we can to work through all the technical solutions.

“It is important to create a partnership with a contractor to make sure this project is done efficiently and correctly.”

Bovis Lend Lease, which was in line for the construction contract under the plans of former owner Parkview International, declined to comment on whether it would consider a bid for the new scheme.

Mr Tincknell said REO would spend as much as £150 million to bring the dilapidated power station back into a workable state before it begins the project, which it aims to have completed by 2020.

The old power station would house a combined cooling, heat, and power plant, using biofuels, waste and other renewable energy sources. Its listed chimneys, which the developer has said are beyond repair, would be removed and replaced.

Areas of the station would be converted into flats, a hotel, shops, cafes and restaurants and the remainder of the site would be developed as a mix of residential and commercial.

This includes 232,000 sq m of offices covered by a transparent “eco-dome”, which rises into a 300 m-high and 32 m-wide chimney that works as a natural ventilation system for the buildings and area inside.

Mr Vinoly said up to 3,000 cu m per second of air could be drawn through the system, to power turbines that can provide as much of 67 per cent of the buildings’ needs.

He added: “While ambitious, I know there are contractors in this country that would not have a problem with taking on this project. We are using completely known technologies.”

The proposal also includes a Tube station, which would be an extension of the Northern Line from Kennington.

The planned route – a study for which has been completed by engineering consultants Mott MacDonald – would cost almost £350 million and would be paid for by REO and other significant landowners in the Nine Elms Opportunity Area.

Mr Tincknell said: “We don’t embark on projects that we can’t deliver.”

Will it be third time lucky?

At the launch of the new plans for Battersea Power Station, the developers acknowledged the difficulties experienced by those who had gone before them.

Treasury Holdings managing director Rob Tincknell said: “Welcome to the launch for the Battersea Power Station. If you have been before, welcome back.”

The Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed station opened in the 1930s and it wasn’t until 1983 that the turbines stopped.

It has since been the subject of Alton Towers-style plans, which were put forward by Sir John Broome, and designs to transform it into a luxury-brand retail complex.

The latter scheme was unveiled by Parkview International, a company owned by Hong Kong property tycoon Victor Hwang, which had ownership of the site between 1993 and 2006.

But the team behind the current scheme are confident they will be the ones to succeed.

Asked why, architect Rafael Vinoly said: “First of all I think because of Treasury’s record, then my own. I haven’t been in this business for 42 years without building anything.”