Drapers visits London landmark Battersea Power Station as it plans to transform into a shopping district to rival Oxford Street and Westfield.
Stretching into the sky, the twin chimneys of Battersea Power Station are an iconic part of London’s skyline. The Grade II* listed former power plant has made appearances on the cover of Pink Floyd album Animals and in TV shows and films as diverse as Doctor Who, Sherlock and The Dark Knight, but has lain unused since it was decommissioned in 1983.
Ambitious £9bn plans are afoot to transform Battersea into a retail and leisure destination able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the capital’s premier shopping districts. Set to be completed in 2020, it is estimated the retail destination will pull in 40m visitors each year.
“It has been empty and desolate – home to pigeons and falcons and not much else – for 30 years,” explains Simon Murphy, deputy chief executive and chief financial officer of the Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC). “In many shopping centres you could be anywhere in the world – London, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur. But when you come here and walk through these spaces, there’ll be no doubt where in the world you are.”
The retail offer within the power station itself will be split in half to reflect the building’s long heritage. Battersea is made up of Turbine Hall A, which was built in the 1930s and retains the period’s Art Deco details. A second building, Turbine Hall B, followed in the 1950s.
“We see Turbine Hall A as a ‘temple of sophistication’”, explains leasing director Sam Cotton. “It’s a beautiful environment that suits retail very well. It won’t be an uber-luxury price point, but affordable luxury and British heritage brands will sit here. Turbine Hall B has a totally different look and feel – it’s much more Brutalist and austere, and feels more like Stockholm or Berlin than Paris or Milan. The retailers there will be faster, younger and more contemporary. There’s already been interest from Korean and Japanese brands, particularly beauty brands.”
Office space and leisure are also key to the new Battersea Power Station. Tech giant Apple has signed up to a new 500,000 sq ft space within the building, and visitors will also be able to choose from 40 restaurants and cafes. An extension of the Northern line and a new tube station will link Battersea to the rest of the capital. The development also includes Circus West village, which opened last year and is home to 865 apartments, 25,000 sq ft of offices and 23 food and beverage units, including The Battersea General Store and independent pizza restaurant Mother.
Opening large and expensive new retail developments at a time when many are shrinking their store estates is a risk. But as the BPSDC team argue, the stores retailers do open will have to be extra special to encourage shoppers through the door. Battersea Power Station’s mix of impressive architecture, leisure offer and the presence of companies such as Apple could prove a winning combination.