AN explosive end to Fawley power station moved a step closer with demolition plans submitted to New Forest District Council.
If the dramatic operation gets the go-ahead as expected, the facility, which closed in 2013, will partly be blown up in a series of controlled detonations in the summer to clear the way for near £1bn proposals for about 1,500 homes.
The likely fate of the main buildings and 650ft chimney was first revealed by the A&T last year – despite initial ideas floated by development consortium Fawley Waterside Ltd for a sky-high restaurant atop the stack, which can be seen for miles around.
The company said there was agreement with NFDC and the national park authority, plus Natural England, for the chimney to come down due to its “detrimental impact” on the landscape.
It intends to replace the landmark with a “smaller and very elegant” structure still big enough to be used as a navigation point from the Solent.
Also listed for demolition is the now emptied turbine hall and circular control room on the site, which has been the location for Hollywood films Solo: A Star Wars Story and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.
The process will continue with machinery and infrastructure being stripped out before the turbine hall, de-aerator building and boiler house come down in May.
Finally, authorisation will be given by Fawley Waterside Ltd for the chimney as early as September 2020.
An appeal to keep the chimney was made by a Langley resident who wrote to NFDC: “I object to the demolition of the… chimney as I feel that the local community do not mind this landmark being there.
“It would be a total waste of money to knock it down only to build a lesser structure in its place. I hope common sense prevails and the chimney is preserved.”
The explosions would be carried out outside the nesting season of wintering birds, said the application. An ornithologist will be tasked with checking there are no peregrine falcons, which once nested on the chimney.
The demolition application was accompanied by plans to manage noise, dust and asbestos from the plant’s destruction.
The plan is the first significant move for the development which local landowner Aldred Drummond, who is fronting Fawley Waterside Ltd, initially said would be submitted as an outline masterplan late last year.
A Fawley Waterside Ltd spokesperson said it was now anticipated to be formally lodged in three parts with NFDC and the national park authority after March.
She said: “Considerable technical work has been carried out to support this application which has meant that only now is it ready to be submitted.”
The outline application is split into three with the biggest being the main power station site including 1,380 homes; 102,600 square metres of new commercial, civic and employment space; and a 2,100 space car park, plus enlargement of the dock and creation of a canal.
The second part is 120 new homes in the area within the national park, which will include 300 square metres of new civic space, a primary school, and early years’ provision, as well as a salt water saline lagoon and tidal creek. Access would be via the B3053.
The third section is 30 new homes in Calshot, also within the national park, next to St George’s Church. It would include a new cemetery and enhancement of the church hall.
The power station began operation in 1971 as a 2,000-megawatt oil-fired power station and at its peak employed 700 people.
Public comments should be submitted before 10th March when NFDC is scheduled to make a decision.