Added on: 11 January 2016 at 14:48:20
Latest Crossrail2 Consultation
The Battersea Society (registered charity 1103560) is the recognised civic society for the original parish and former Metropolitan Borough of Battersea, an area stretching southwards from the river Thames between Vauxhall and Wandsworth Bridges which includes at its heart Clapham Junction. Among other things the Society seeks to represent the interests of Battersea and its residents on planning and transport issues. These views are submitted in response to the further consultation about Crossrail 2 launched by Transport for London (TfL) on 27 October 2015.
The Battersea Society is a member of the Community Engagement Panel for Clapham Junction established by TfL in July 2015 and its representatives on the Panel are Liz Walton and David Lewis. This response covers not only Clapham Junction but also other aspects of the proposals for Crossrail 2 which are currently of concern to the Battersea Society.
A station in Chelsea
TfL’s previous consultation in summer 2015 sought views on two possible locations for a station in Chelsea: Worlds End and King’s Road. TfL has now taken a decision in favour of King’s Road: a Crossrail 2 station in that location would be useful and attractive for people living in North Battersea and around Battersea Park, as well as being convenient for visitors to the Park, for the Royal College of Art Battersea Campus and for neighbouring offices south of Battersea Bridge.
Safeguarding for route of a Crossrail 2 branch south of Victoria
In addition to protecting the running tunnels and the stations at Victoria and Chelsea the current Safeguarding Direction designates a strip of land diverging from the Crossrail 2 route south of Victoria and terminating on Chelsea Embankment. It has not been explained why this strip of land has been designated or what function it is envisaged as serving.
The Safeguarding Direction for the Chelsea-Hackney Line designated a similar strip of land but in that case extending under the river and into Battersea Park. In our response to TfL’s consultation in summer 2015 we expressed great concern that this earlier designation might mean Battersea Park had been seen as an appropriate location for entry points for construction of the tunnels and/or for the removal of spoil. We gave notice that we would oppose very strongly any proposal to use Battersea Park for these purposes. It is not just a valuable open space but also of great historic interest and intensively used for a wide variety of activities. Even if damage to it would not be permanent its effective loss for an extended period would be a calamity.
Our current understanding is that the tunnels for Crossrail 2 will be driven from the entry points at Tottenham and Wimbledon and spoil from the tunnelling will be taken back to those entry points for removal and disposal. We were reassured by that information. We were therefore surprised to see a southward-pointing branch retained in the new Safeguarding Direction, albeit in a modified form. We are seeking an explanation for that.
Proposed ventilation shaft in Westbridge Road
We recognise that the car park and landscaped area at Whitgift House have been regarded as a convenient site for a ventilation shaft, but we emphasise that they are within a residential area and the amenities of residents must be protected. Our understanding is that construction of the shaft would require temporary occupation of a substantial part of this site for about five years with most of the work concentrated into a two-year period. A surface structure (the head house) would be left on the site, and would be roughly 25 m square and two storeys high; there would have to be permanent access for vehicles.
The Battersea Society’s main concerns about this proposal are that:
the construction process, including removal of spoil, should have the minimum possible impact on nearby residents, and should be carried out in full consultation with them;
an attractive landscaped area should be retained or restored, in particular there are a number of well established trees, which should be retained if possible but otherwise replaced by mature trees of appropriate species
parking should continue to be provided on site for residents’ cars: if the outcome is to reduce significantly the amount of parking available, Wandsworth Council should consider ways of mitigating that.
Even with the welcome, but piecemeal, improvements made in the last few years the existing station at Clapham Junction is inconvenient, inadequate and in some respects hazardous. Responsibility for improving it and extending it to cope with increasing numbers of trains and passengers lies with Network Rail. There has been general acceptance, not least in the initial meeting of the Clapham Junction Community Engagement Panel for Crossrail 2, that a master plan is needed to cover all aspects of Clapham Junction as a major transport interchange. Moreover proposals for a new station entrance on Grant Road need to be fully integrated with longer-term redevelopment of the Bramlands area as part of the Winstanley Regeneration, so that local residents will understand the implications the scale of the new Crossrail interchange has for Grant Road. Preparation and delivery of a master plan will require the full co-operation of all the relevant bodies. But there is no indication as yet how that will be achieved.
In contrast the London Borough of Merton has held a competition to help it envisage what the centre of Wimbledon could look like after the opening of Crossrail 2 in 2030 and will use the ideas put forward in the competition to develop a long-term master plan later this year (see www.futurewimbledon.co.uk).
In the case of Clapham Junction these fundamental issues have not been covered in the present consultation. Nor has there been a proper opportunity to discuss the specific proposals put forward in the present consultation, which are manifestly unsatisfactory. Consideration of them can now best be undertaken in the Community Engagement Panel, and we welcome the assurance we have received that a meeting of this body will be convened at an early date.
Proposed ventilation shaft on Wandsworth Common
The Battersea Society is strongly opposed to taking part of Wandsworth Common for a ventilation shaft. Following strong objections to the earlier proposal for a shaft in the central area of Wandsworth Common, and discussions with local residents about other possible sites, an acceptable site was found between Trinity Road and Heathfield Road. That exercise has been overtaken, however, by TfL’s decision to divert the route of Crossrail 2 from Tooting Broadway to Balham. We discuss that decision below, but one unfortunate consequence of it has been a proposal for a ventilation shaft on the edge of the Common near Honeywell Road which in our view is even more unacceptable than the, now abandoned, original proposal. TfL told a consultation meeting on November 23 that, because of constraints on the revised route, it is most unlikely an alternative could be found to the latest proposal. If not, and quite apart from other considerations, we would regard the need for a ventilation shaft in this position as a powerful argument for preferring the original route via Tooting Broadway to the route through Balham.
Balham versus Tooting Broadway
The original proposal for a Crossrail 2 station at Tooting Broadway was widely welcomed. It would greatly improve communication between the northern part of the borough and Tooting and make St George’s Hospital more accessible. It would also boost regeneration in Tooting. This is Wandsworth Council’s preferred route. We are not aware of any strong support locally for a Crossrail 2 station at Balham.
TfL now say the geological conditions at Tooting Broadway are very unfavourable, and this would delay completion of Crossrail 2 and cost significantly more. That can only be avoided, they say, and an intermediate station between Clapham Junction and Wimbledon retained, if the route is diverted to Balham. There would still be interchange with the Northern Line, and there would now be a second opportunity (in addition to Clapham Junction) for interchange with the Southern franchise of surface rail.
We can appreciate the magnitude of the problem in constructing the route through Tooting Broadway, as analysed in TfL’s report, but note that TfL does not consider this option as impossible, given additional funding and time. We also note that one route through Balham has been immediately discounted by TfL because it entails a change in platform alignment at Clapham Junction; yet that route alone would avoid the need for a ventilation shaft on Wandsworth Common, to which there is such strong opposition. The whole concept of an interchange with the Northern Line, while delivering 8% of the transport benefit of Crossrail 2, is not a show-stopper for the benefit of the project to London; and, if providing it caused risk to the entire project, it should also be included in the options to be compared in confronting these geological conditions.
The Battersea Society supports Wandsworth Council in urging that, before a decision is taken on the route, TfL should undertake a full and open evaluation of the options, particularly the difference in costs and benefits between a station at Balham and a station at Tooting Broadway. This evaluation must include full coverage of the socio-economic, operational, financial and environmental issues. When additional information is provided by TfL Wandsworth Council has said it will consider seeking expert advice on geotechnical constraints on tunnelling and station construction, and we would support them in doing that.