Cllr Convery and Stephan Schulte convened a meeting with Network Rail today. Network Rail fielded a substantial team led by Ian Fry the Project Director for the Kings Cross refurbishment. Representatives of major local property developments and businesses attended (thanks to Stefan for arranging and to MacMillan, The Guardian, Parabola and Kings Place). We had an open and frank exchange of views, but in a constructive way. We all agreed that the meeting should have happened some time ago. Network Rail made the following points:
- the refurbishment is important for the rail network, including the need for a new platform
- if there was a simple way of engineering access from the East and North it would have been done
- inserting access now was a complex and substantial engineering task. this was not to say that it couldn’t be done, but that to do so would require a major change to current plans and would be very difficult.
The Access Alliance (i just made that up – couldn’t think of another name for an unholy alliance of property developers, businesses, councillors and residents – almost a post-modern ‘community’) said:
- there was very strong feeling about the issue locally amongst a community that has lived with the station through thick and thin over many generations
- major businesses such as MacMillan and The Guardian had and intended to relocate to Kings Cross in anticipation of Eastern and Northern access for their staff – both for the convenience of a major transport hub and for staff safety and security
- the refurbishment of Kings Cross was welcome and a huge, complex engineering task. In comparison to this, the challenges of access North and East, such as through a bridge over the tracks were small
- If this access had been planned in properly from the outset major changes would not be required now
- Islington Council would work closely with Camden members throughout the planning process
- the community had a long history of fighting planning battles – the CTRL bridge noise and vibration insulated bridge over the ECML was vastly more expensive than any footbridge over the tracks.
Network Rail said it was happy to engage with parties on improving York Way (as were Camden planning officers). The community asked whether a commitment could be given about engaging on developing access options. Network Rail said that they needed to reflect on the meeting and asked for a week before coming back with an answer.
The tone of the meeting was helpful, so let’s see what Network Rail come back with. Thanks to everyone who gave their time – any views from attendees (i may have missed some bits) or others welcome in comments to this post or by email to me. In the margins there was encouraging interest from Network Rail in involvement in community work – will report further.