Over 17,000 residents, hundreds of businesses and 4,000* commuters a day are to be shut out of their local entrance to the King’s Cross/St Pancras transport hub. This will undermine the benefits of one of the largest regeneration initiatives currently underway in Europe. But in response to a parliamentary question the government has completely ignored a request for an assessment of the huge impact this will have on the local business and residential community.
Norman Baker (Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Transport; Lewes, Liberal Democrat) asked the Secretary of State for Transport if her Department would “make an assessment of the effects on (a) the local community and (b) regeneration in the King’s Cross area of Network Rail’s plans to close permanently pedestrian access routes to King’s Cross and St Pancras rail stations from the north-east of the station complex; and if she will make a statement”.
Rosie Winterton (Minister of State, Department for Transport; Doncaster Central, Labour) replied that “Network Rail applied for and received planning consent from the local planning authority (London borough of Camden) for the redevelopment of King’s Cross station. Consultation was undertaken as part of this process, which resulted in Network Rail commissioning a study to consider ways to maintain access to the station from York Way. Network Rail has advised me that the study concluded that from an operational safety perspective the access to York Way in this location could not be maintained”.
Network Rail are to close all entrances to King’s Cross Station and replace them with one new entrance on the far western side. A massive wall the length of the station will divide King’s Cross and Somers Town closing the community on the Islington side out of the stations and King’s Cross Central development.
Planning consent was given to Network Rail on the basis that they carry out a feasibility study into providing access by bridge at the rear of the station. The study failed to look at the only known workable option wasting time and public money on conclusions that are irrelevant.
Now the Government is backing that flawed piece of work, instead of listening to the local community, leaving local campaigners angry and dismayed.
Sophie Talbot of King’s Cross Community Projects said, “Our community faces multiple deprivation and high levels of youth crime. Our young people feel disaffected and ignored by the changes happening in the area. Regenerating Kings Cross was supposed to help change this. But the effect of Network Rail’s closure of the Wharfdale Road entrance with no replacement bridge will cut us off and further alienate our community.”
She added, “A bridge would cost less than 2% of Network Rail’s redevelopment budget for King’s Cross. We are not asking for something unattainable”.
Michael Edwards of King’s Cross Railway Lands Group said, “Network Rail is a public body which should know better. They are disregarding their own self-interest as well as imposing huge costs on the locality. On top of that they want to close off the obvious emergency escape from the station and we simply have to stop them.”
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