Developer caves in to demands to abandon plans for 300m-tall sustainable structure

Plans to adorn Battersea power station with a 300m-tall glass chimney have been dropped as part of a revamp of the design.

It is understood that Treasury Holdings, the developer for the £4bn scheme, has caved in to demands to drop the structure.

The chimney was the most controversial element of the scheme, which is designed by Rafael Viñoly. Boris Johnson, the London mayor, was said to have been concerned about its scale, and architects and heritage bodies raised the issue of its impact on the London skyline. George Ferguson, a former president of the RIBA, labelled Viñoly a “menace to London”.

Under Viñoly’s plan, the “eco-dome” at the base of the chimney would have pulled fresh air though the buildings below, eliminating the need for mechanical cooling. This was a central part of Treasury Holdings’ sustainability strategy.

Rob Tincknell, the managing director of Treasury Holdings UK, said in January that if the chimney was not approved the developer would need to “review the entire scheme”.

Cabe’s design review panel was understood to have been highly critical of the chimney, the eco-dome and the masterplan. Sources close to the watchdog said the panel had been dissatisfied that Viñoly’s design was such a departure from Arup’s 2004 masterplan.

A source close to the process said: “There was always an impression that this was a pipe dream, so it’s not a great surprise that it went. It got quite a roasting from Cabe.”

The chimney had already been scaled down by 50m in December in response to feedback from shareholders.

Keith Garner, director of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, welcomed the decision to drop the chimney. He said: “How much time and money was wasted on this? It doesn’t give much confidence that this building is in safe hands.”

Viñoly’s revised plan will be submitted for outline planning next month, with detailed proposals for an extension of the London Underground Northern line to Battersea.

The removal of the chimney from the masterplan will provoke fresh questions about the scheme’s ambition to be sustainable. Tincknell said: “Our tower is more than a tower. It would be a large symbol of our green agenda as a city.”

Ten Years of Battersea Power Station

March 2000

Arup Associates appointed to design masterplan by developer Parkview

December 2003

Parkview appoints Bovis Lend Lease construction manager

May 2004

Arup’s masterplan for site is submitted for planning

December 2006

REO, a division of Treasury Holdings, buys site from Parkview for £400m – Arup and Bovis are dropped from scheme

April 2007

Rafael Viñoly beats Foster + Partners and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to design £4bn scheme

June 2008

Vinoly’s designs for 8 million ft2 development are unveiled, including the startling glass chimney

March 2009

Plans due to be submitted for planning, but without “eco-chimney”