As redevelopment plans go, an alligator park is one of the wilder options…
I like to think that Old Kent Road cast an envious glance over at all the whizzes and bangs going on at the Battersea Power Station redevelopment and said “yeah, but you know what they don’t have? A frickin’ alligator park!” Because that, dear reader, is the improbable plan which has been drawn up for the redevelopment of a Victorian gasholder on said road, and it’s a plan with a fair amount of bite.
The alligator park is the brainwave of property developer Avanton, who were presumably denied the opportunity to build the complete Bond villain-esque lair, and thus had to settle on just one outrageous scheme instead. It involves converting the Grade II-listed structure into a tropical enclosure, using giant glass panels to enclose the site and control the temperatures, keeping the alligators warm despite Britain’s often chilly climate.
It’s just one part of a mooted £230 million scheme to redevelop the Old Kent Road area – which will be on the Bakerloo line within the decade – although it’s quite obviously the one most people are interested in. Co-founding director Marc Pennick, quoted in the Evening Standard, said “the alligator park concept came to us after we were approached by an out-of-town specialist looking for a location for an alligator park.” I, naturally, have so many questions about this, not least since the job of “alligator park specialist” sounds like the invention of a ten year-old boy with a vivid imagination.
The development is in the extremely early stages, so I’d be more than a little surprised to see this actually happen. Key hurdles lie with the problems of keeping tropical reptiles in a northern European climate, the ethics of keeping wild animals in captivity, and with the residents of Old Kent Road, whom I suspect might have a couple reservations about having gators in the neighbourhood. Either way, we’ve got a while before anything is confirmed, so I guess see you later, alligator!
Personally, if we’re to have a new pool of any kind, I’d prefer it be this insane high-rise (and crucially, alligator-free) pool instead.
Also published on Medium.