Battersea Power Station – retail and leisure reimagined – Q&A with Iain Miller
1. Tell us about your role at Battersea Power Station.
Before returning to Burness Paull in Aberdeen, I was the Senior Construction Lawyer for Battersea Power Station Development Company Limited - the development manager for the consortium redeveloping the Grade II* listed former Power Station and the wider forty-two acre site. I was involved in all live phases of the development with specific responsibility for Phase 2 (the redevelopment of the Power Station itself) advising on all construction elements, including retail and leisure leasing.
2. What is the retail & leisure strategy at Battersea Power Station, and why is it being labelled as ‘visionary and innovative’?
Looking at the strategy within Phase 2 specifically, the team at BPS are focussed on place-making and delivering a unique, world-class experience which is distinct from their competitors which capitalises on being in a globally recognisable building. A big part of this is getting out into the market internationally and seeking out fresh contemporary brands that are at the cutting-edge of their particular offering and incorporating those alongside the more traditional and well-established retail destinations.
3. What makes Battersea Power Station an exciting retail destination for consumers?
There will be very few developments that offer the industrial grandeur and scale of Battersea Power Station from a retail and leisure perspective. This, combined with the improvements in connectivity provided by the extension to the Northern Line - making Battersea Power Station a new terminus on the tube - and the Thames Clippers River Bus, galvanise it as a destination in its own right. In addition, the Power Station itself was actually built in two phases, pre and post-world war two, and from a design perspective it will be interesting to see how the retail assets (particularly the shopfronts) coalesce within the two dramatically different architectural styles.
4. Why is are regeneration and mixed use developments becoming increasingly more important for our cities?
Speaking to our developer clients, not restricting developments to one asset type has a number of benefits – from simply spreading risk across sectors, to providing spaces which are commercially complimentary (eg. office and residential helping to drive footfall to the retail and leisure). In addition, the redevelopment of existing sites which are now surrounded by other buildings (for example the St James’ redevelopment) provides a context within which any new development must necessarily fit – a reverse corollary to the “agent of change” principle in many respects.
5. What inspiration can our Scottish cities learn/take from BPS?
Our forebears have endowed Scotland with a wealth of historic buildings and there are some fantastic examples of these being reimagined, not least within the retail and leisure sector. In addition, the logic of significant and meaningful infrastructure investment becomes irresistible when you see what impact this has had, for example, on BPS’ ability to attract occupiers such as Apple and IWG. In addition, (and this may just be my personal bias) I think people are becoming more aware of the importance of heritage and culture in the built environment - not least from a conservation perspective - and I think the rewards will be there for the developers and funders who are open to this. For anyone who isn’t aware of it, Coal Drops Yard at Kings Cross is another fantastic example of this “re-imaging” of what was essentially an industrial relic. Perhaps we need more of this across Scotland.
6. Aberdeen’s retail and leisure offering has improved significantly over the last decade with the development of Union Square and more recently Marischal Square – what else do you think the city needs?
I am not alone in thinking that there have been some really positive developments in Aberdeen in recent years in spite of the prevailing economic climate – in my view the emergence of a number of strong, successful independent leisure brands has made a big contribution to that. Though it seems ancillary, quality improvements to hard-landscaping and streetscape also play a huge role in creating and preserving amenity – a good example being the pedestrianisation of Broad Street. I do however think that we need to keep working at getting that joined-up thinking between the building owners in and around Union Street and the relevant authorities and stakeholders to work-out what role that plays in the new era. Initiatives such as Nuart, which has been supported by Burness Paull, have also supported and enhanced the cultural dimension which also makes a big contribution to civic identity.
7. What are you most looking forward to (from retail & leisure perspective) – now that you are back in your home city?
My instincts say easy access to the best distilleries and seafood in the world, but with our son having turned one in March it is probably fair to say my leisure destinations are likely to have changed significantly since I last worked in the Granite City!
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