Nick Clark: Ah, just the thought of watching Chelsea in one of London's greatest buildings
The possibility that we could actually call Battersea Power Station home is stunning
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Saturday 05 May 2012
In an age that has maligned and debased the use of "iconic," the term can be justifiably attributed to Battersea Power Station, the imposing superstructure that stands imperiously on the south bank of the Thames.
The Sir Giles Gilbert Scott design is instantly recognisable and has been adopted by cultural greats including Alfred Hitchcock and Monty Python. Pink Floyd flew inflatable pigs over the chimneys, and more recently Batman has stalked the decaying halls.
The possibility that Chelsea could actually call such a building home is stunning. The Power Station may have only been built in the 1930s, but it certainly is in the pantheon of great London buildings, and its design lends it an air of permanence and history.
To watch football beneath the awe-inspiring chimneys would be unique, and the pulse races at the thought of "Carefree" bouncing off the turbine hall walls. Clearly, leaving Stamford Bridge, and more than a century of history, would be a huge wrench. Yet it is plain that for the club's next 100 years – with the demands of Financial Fair Play, and a desire to bring in more fans than ever before – a new home will be increasingly necessary.
Fans are understandably nervous, given the executives' previous mishandling of the proposed stadium move. But with an actual bid on the site, and a few details on plans, this sounds a real possibility rather than a pipe dream.
If the stadium is to move, Battersea and Earls Court would be the only palatable options for the majority of Chelsea fans. Earls Court would be readily accepted.
But the chance to move into Battersea Power Station, or even just incorporate part of it in the design, would go even further. To bring in an additional 20,000 fans, create world-class facilities yet offer a building steeped in London's recent history is hugely compelling. There is no chance it would be just another well-engineered but soulless arena.
The Nine Elms area is in the process of a huge redevelopment drive, with the arrival of the American embassy and an overhaul of the New Covent Garden Flower Market. Hundreds of new homes have been approved – more potential fans!
Fears have been raised about transport. Chelsea's bid has included a commitment to the Tube's Northern Line extension, which would be essential, and it would be close to a large transport hub in Vauxhall. As any fan knows, things can hardly get worse than the current match-day crawl along the District Line.
This will take months to move forward, and years to build, but Chelsea could benefit hugely from the woes of the site's property developers. Could it really happen? Well, pigs have flown over it once, so I've got fingers crossed.
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