Sunday, 11 December 2016
The Battersea end of the Nine Elms nightmare: is there an uglier road in London?
Look what they've done to our road, ma! Look what they've done to Queenstown Road. This long final strip of Queenstown Road, from Battersea Park roundabout up to Chelsea Bridge, was always a sort of runway or ramp, a diving board from which south London likely lads and lasses launched themselves into the monied worlds of the King's Road, Chelsea, Westminster and beyond.
Mods, rockers, boy racers used that half-mile of tarmac as their catwalk or drag strip. Bikers would meet at the tea hut on the south side of the bridge en route for their Friday night runs out to Heston Services and back. That bridge, with its Christmas tree lighting, was always a potent symbol of the gap between north and south London. Posh and arty on the north side, industrial and a bit rough on the other.
Now, it's getting bland on both sides. The money-zombies have taken it for themselves. They've taken over the Queenstown bit, the whole length of the bit that faces dear sweet Battersea Park. And soon the road that continues on the north side will be overshadowed by the Chelsea Barracks re-development. The views into Battersea Park are still there, but that knockout close-up view of the great looming power station has gone completely.
Look at this photo - how on earth has this happened? People joked about how absurd the old
Observer/QVC building, Marco Polo House, was. This place - occupied briefly by the supposed rival for Sky TV, BSB (later BSkyB as Murdoch added its scalp to his knapsack) - was a veritable cathedral of restraint and good taste compared to what we see now.
Looking north towards the bridge from the Battersea Park roundabout, it seems that three or four bulky, mass-market holiday cruise liners have backed up against the road. Those horrible blunted curves. Wrap-around balconies in some dismal white stone-look material.
It seems they have used every available inch to shove their bulbous bodies as close as possible to each other and to the public realm, the street.
Are these the "affordable" bits of this monster development? Or are the people paying their £850,000 plus happy to stroll around their balconied decks, looking straight across at another block which is identically ugly to the one they live in?
Tell me, please, I really don't get it.