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Mystery over future of Battersea chief Roberts

Power station developer unable to say when Parkview boss will return


The ambitious development of London’s Battersea Power Station took a new twist this week with owner Parkview International unable to say when its chief executive would be returning from holiday.

Industry sources said Parkview chief executive Michael Roberts, a long-standing ally of Parkview owner Victor Hwang, had left the group promoting the 1.5bn scheme, but spokesman Ian Rumgay said this was not true.

However, he continued: ‘Michael is on holiday. I don’t know when he is returning. I cannot specify when he is coming back.’

Two weeks ago, Rumgay said Roberts would be back on Monday this week. However, he has still not returned, fuelling speculation that he is to leave Parkview after a fall out with Hwang over the direction of the project.

Roberts was unavailable for comment, and colleagues at his office declined to say where he was.

The mystery over Roberts’ role is the latest in a series of setbacks at Battersea in the last year. Irish developer Ballymore was in detailed discussions to buy a majority stake

in the power station site for a residential-led scheme, but talks broke down in January. Private investor syndicate AAIM then entered an exclusivity period without being able to hammer out a deal.

Industry sources say the significant problem for any new partner at Battersea is changing the scheme. To do so would trigger a new planning application with far higher affordable housing levels than the current consent.

Parkview wants to build a 4.4m sq ft (405,000 sq m) retail, leisure, office and residential scheme that would retain the listed power station.

Upmarket residential developer Candy & Candy, which is behind luxury schemes at Bowater House in Knightsbridge and Middlesex Hospital in Bloomsbury, is the latest outfit to be linked with Battersea.

Rumgay would only say: ‘Parkview International is in the process of considering proposals from a number of different organisations and institutions for financing the construction phase of the Battersea Power Station project.

‘One such organisation was the AAIM group, but Parkview International have decided not to progress matters with this investment group as they were unable to meet all commercial objectives.

‘Several other proposals are still being considered and Parkview International and the power station project continues to enjoy the full support and confidence of the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays.

‘For the first time since the power station was decommissioned in 1982, all the key elements are now in place for this landmark site to be redeveloped. The scheme is proceeding on schedule for phase 1 completion in 2010/11.’

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