The rebuild of Battersea Arts Centre is finished, and it’s looking great (and worth a visit, for anyone who’s not seen the recent works to the part of the building destroyed by the fire). Originally, the planned final part of the project was quite minor – just some work to tidy up the street around it, finally fixing the decaying ‘heritage’ street lights in front of the building, and dealing with the increasingly uneven stone paving. But the final phase of the project now includes a surprise: BAC are proposing to go much further and convert the whole of Town Hall Road (the street to the right of the building – pictured below) to a small pedestrianised park. With new trees, and a mix of planters, new paving, a mural, and the two telephone kiosks ingeniously converted to a garden tool store and a gardening sink for community gardening visits, it would be quite a change to the current surroundings.BAC also propose converting the somewhat run-down raised area between BAC and 158 Lavender Hill – which is actually the roof of some old pram sheds for the block of flats – in to a planting area – an approximate ‘before’ (image credit: Google street view) and ‘after’ are shown below.
This will incorporate lush planting set around a large steel roof truss that was rescued from the fire in the Great Hall (shown below – it was kept because it was interesting and the mangled nature of it demonstrated the ferocity of the fire at the Great Hall; it’s currently in storage), which is to be converted in to an accidentally produced sculpture (just visible in the image to the right below).
The proposed park includes an area for several new outdoor tables and chairs, all of which is at the flat bit of the street at the top (Lavender Hill) end – shown below. This location is mainly so it can serve the BAC Cafe (whose new entrance faces the area), but presumably also so that it can avoid disturbing neighbours at the quiet end of the street, and be easily taken in at night to keep the dreaded street drinkers away.This is quite a complicated project – the design has to preserve emergency access (which, maybe not surprisingly in view of recent events at BAC, has been looked at in some detail), the land involved is split in to several ownerships (BAC have leased most of the street itself, but the pavement belongs to Wandsworth, the walls belong to the neighbours, one area belongs to the block of flats next door, and the two telephone kiosks belong to BT), and of course the whole proposal has to be in keeping with the listed nature of BAC itself.
This is an interesting project, that would make the slightly down at heel area around BAC a lot more attractive, and which seems worthy of support. The precise details are as ever likely to evolve a bit depending on what the various landowners involved want and what can be afforded – but, broadly speaking, we doubt this will be a controversial project. Having nicer surroundings would also help BAC’s various venues more attractive to hire out – again helping the overall viability of BAC, which (since it became independent from Wandsworth) has to stand on its own feet financially.
To see the full details, and to make any formal planning comments (current deadline for comment is the 10th January), see Wandsworth’s planning site where the main application is number 2018/5127.
All images (c) BAC, taken from their planning application, apart from the ‘before’ streetscape image which is (c) Google Street View.