Sunday 4 December 2016

Barrett and Ronan get green light for €6.4bn Battersea redevelopment

Published 12/11/2010 | 10:58

Iconic: The power station's two former turbine halls will be used for public events such as conferences and will contain the largest ballroom in London, according to the project’s website. Photo: Getty Images
Iconic: The power station's two former turbine halls will be used for public events such as conferences and will contain the largest ballroom in London, according to the project’s website. Photo: Getty Images

Richard Barrett and Johnny Ronan, the owners of Battersea Power Station, the derelict London landmark, have won approval to build apartments, stores and offices on the site at a cost of €6.4bn.

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Wandsworth Borough Council approved the plan at a meeting yesterday after two other developers failed to revamp the 77- year-old property.

Irish millionaires Barrett and Ronan, whose Jersey-registered Real Estate Opportunities Plc owns the site, got consent to build 3,400 homes and 330,000 square meters of commercial space.

“This very exciting proposal will be a shot in the arm for Battersea and London,” said Councilor Nick Cuff, chairman of the committee that approved the plan. “I’m very optimistic.”

Barrett and Ronan needed the consent to raise money from investors to finance the project and repay money owed to Lloyds Banking Group and the National Asset Management Agency. REO rose as much as 62pc to 4p in London trading, the biggest gain in four months.

Barrett and Ronan plan to transfer the 38-acre (15-hectare) site to a separate company and have held talks with potential investors including sovereign wealth funds and large property companies, according to Rob Tincknell, a director of REO.

“This is the moment that investors have been waiting for,” Tincknell said in an interview after the meeting. “This site now has a value established to it which they can invest in.”

Second effort

This was the second bid by Barrett and Ronan to get consent to develop the site that they acquired in 2006 for €400m.

The revised proposals reduced the office and retail space from architect Rafael Vinoly’s original plans, which featured a 300-meter (984-foot) glass and steel chimney as part of a solar- driven ventilation system.

The power station’s two former turbine halls will be used for public events such as conferences and will contain the largest ballroom in London, according to the project’s website.

Each hall is about the same size as the one at the Tate Modern, the former Bankside Power Station that was converted into an art gallery in 2000. Both buildings were designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who also devised the red public telephone box.

The project has its skeptics after preceding proposals failed to materialise, plus opponents because of its size and limited number of affordable homes.

Project opposition

“The planners don’t take into account whether they have the money,” said Brian Barnes, chairman of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, before yesterday’s meeting.

His group opposed the proposals chiefly because they will result in the demolition and reconstruction of the building’s four smokestacks and the loss of a Victorian-era water-pumping facility.

The project will take more than a decade to complete, creating more than 15,000 jobs and providing 500 affordable homes, REO estimates.

It’s part of a regeneration plan for the Nine Elms neighborhood covering the south bank of the River Thames between central London’s Chelsea and Vauxhall bridges, an area where the US is also due to relocate its embassy in 2017.

The success of the program hinges on extensions to London’s subway system to the area, according to REO. The company has pledged to contribute more than £200m toward the extension of the Northern Line from Kennington to a station on the Battersea Power Station site.

Barrett and Ronan purchased the property from Hong Kong’s Hwang family. Their company Treasury Holdings, through which they control REO, is carrying out a €4.5bn overhaul of the 52-acre Spencer Dock, the largest project of its kind in Dublin. In 2001, they made an unsuccessful bid to acquire London’s Millennium Dome.

The two men built fortunes from property development in Ireland since founding Treasury Holdings in 1989.

(c) Bloomberg

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