Another attempt at redevelopment kicks off at Battersea Power Station

The site has been disused since 1983

Work has begun on renovation of one of Britain's most recognised - and most neglected - buildings.

Malaysian developers have bought Battersea Power Station, on the south bank of the Thames, in London, aiming to turn it into a prestigious residential and shopping development. Within 10 years they plan to build 3,500 new homes, shops, cafes, restaurants and offices.

Launching the project yesterday with his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "about time" a development for the 39-acre site got off the ground - an allusion to its troubled past of aborted plans.

He told his guest: "This is a great day. It has been a long time to get the Battersea Power Station development going.

"It stopped producing power 30 years ago and it has taken this long to get off the ground. It needed your help."

Mr Najib replied: "It is a shining example of what we can do when we get together.

"We are partners for prosperity."

Famed for its distinctive brick chimneys, the building has featured across popular culture, from the cover of Pink Floyd's "Animals" album to a stint as a factory for turning humans into Cybermen in Doctor Who.

Decommissioned in 1983, the site was bought by Alton Towers creator John Broome. His scheme to build a massive theme park was shelved in March 1989 after it proved too expensive.

The incomplete construction work left the power station without a roof and west wall, leaving it exposed to the elements.

In 1993 Hong Kong-based development company Parkview International acquired the freehold, proposing a residential project. It secured full possession of the site in 2003 but claimed the redevelopment should be handled by a publicly listed company to ensure transparency.

Irish firm Real Estate Opportunities (REO) bought the site for £400m in 2006, with plans not dissimilar to those put in motion this week. They had to call in creditors because of excessive debts.

Chelsea Football Club submitted a bid to build a stadium at the power station, which came to nothing, before the Malaysian investors were chosen as the preferred bidder last year.

The chimneys and art deco design are being protected by its Grade II listed status, and a new Tube station will also be built.

Also at the ceremony, London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "Many thought it would never happen but today is a triumphant moment in Battersea Power Station's rebirth as well as a glowing testimony to London's attractiveness for global investors.

"Once the generator of megawatts, this iconic building's revamp is now sparking the wider rejuvenation of a once neglected part of London into a vibrant new quarter. "Thanks to a multibillion pound public and private investment, which will include a brand new extension to the northern line, the transformation of this area is set to support tens of thousands of jobs and homes for the capital."

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