Correction!

The posting ‘The Case for Battlebridge Crossing’ below originally appeared with no specific mention of the great deal of support provided to this campaign by the Liberal Democrats at local, regional and national levels. Since first appearing it has been amended. Very many apologies, it was entirely my fault – never rush a posting!

The case for Battlebridge Crossing

We are hoping this article will form the basis of a report to a highly influential local committee next week:
There has always been an east/west walking route from Wharfdale Road, across York Way to what was Battlebridge Road and beyond. Once King’s Cross Station was built the original road bridge, which was part of Battlebridge Road, crossed the tracks over the platforms joining York Way where a small number of buildings now sits at the Wharfdale Road entrance. The remains of the cobbled street here can still be seen. This bridge was lost to the area sometime between 1914 and 1922.
1874 crop
Figure 1. Battlebridge Road in 1874.

 

The foundations for the bridge are very unlikely to have been removed, making a replacement bridge a relatively simple engineering task. The community campaign is calling for a pedestrian and cycle bridge (referred to below as a footbridge) following exactly the route of the original road bridge and with no access, gated or otherwise, onto platforms.

 

This route would take pedestrians and cyclists close to and from the entrances to King’s Cross and St Pancras, a choice of tube station entrances (lessening congestion at the Euston Road tube entrance) and would provide the remainder of the east west walking and cycling route that could exist from the Angel all the way to Marylebone Station avoiding Pentonville, Euston and Marylebone Roads.
The community has called this bridge “Battlebridge Crossing”.

 

Bridge without text
Figure 2. Impression of Battlebridge Crossing.
Since 1922 the east west route was served by the Wharfdale Road entrance and the internal Handyside Bridge.

 

In February 2008 LB Camden gave planning permission for the current redevelopment of King’s Cross Station on condition that a feasibility study would be carried out into provision of a footbridge across the rear of the tracks to replace the Wharfdale Road/York Way entrance which will be lost as a consequence of constructing a new Platform Y.

 

At this point Network Rail estimated that 3,400 people use the Wharfdale Road/York Way entrance each day. This figure will have increased substantially following the opening of King’s Place, home to the London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Pangolin Gallery and The Guardian/Observer. It will further increase in line with current estimates for population growth in the area.

 

During the February meeting councillors stated they required the study to be as wide ranging as possible and to consult with the local community. Network Rail appointed Arup to carry out the study. Unfortunately the study was limited to bridges that included gated entrances onto some or all platforms and did not include any community consultation.

 

LB Camden appointed Colin Buchanan, a well known transport and urban design consultancy, to assess whether the Arup study fulfilled its requirements. Despite many concerns about the specification and content of the study being raised by various groups, Buchanan’s concluded that the Arup study did comply with the Camden condition.

 

As a result of Buchanan’s finding Network Rail was then obliged to release £1 million to LB Camden for environmental improvements to York Way.

 

The local community has always made clear that no matter what improvements are made to either York Way or Goodsway – much needed though they are, structural and immovable elements of the streetscape result in these routes being inappropriate for heavy pedestrian or cycle use. Such elements include the canyon effect including the sheer amount of traffic on the York Way side of the King’s Cross Gyratory, the bus depot on York Way, the camber on Goodsway, the taxi priority for the transport hub, the building site effect of King’s Cross Central likely to be present for at least the next twenty years, and the walking/cycling journey times to and from the transport hub.

 

Meanwhile a bewildering number of studies is taking place into movement and open spaces in King’s Cross. These will add to the very large body of evidence already existing from the number of such studies undertaken over many years. A notable such study is the ‘Walkability Audit’ carried out for TfL by Living Streets.

 

Another new study has been announced by LB Islington. This will assess the business case for Battlebridge Crossing.

 

The community campaign for Battlebridge Crossing has concentrated on finding a means of getting Network Rail to accept that they should fund and build the bridge as a matter of some urgency. Network Rail are benefiting from construction of Platform Y which will increase revenue. This benefit arises from removal of public amenities: the Wharfdale Road entrance and Handyside internal footbridge. The community’s case is therefore that Network Rail should replace these amenities.

 

The urgency for construction of the footbridge results from the closure of the Handyside Bridge which has already been achieved and closure of the Wharfdale Road entrance which will be achieved once the scaffolding on the eastern range of the Station is removed. At this point the last vestiges of an east/west route will be removed and it is at this point that it should be replaced.

 

This urgency is further required as Argent King’s Cross is currently under a S106 obligation to house the western end of the bridge on its land. This obligation ceases in 2012.

 

The community campaign has cross-party support and includes businesses based locally such as Gratte Brothers, P&O Estates, Regent’s Quarter Ltd and a major international publisher as well as councillors from Camden and Islington, TfL who have committed to do all in their power to ensure Network Rail builds the bridge, LB Islington via the West Area Committee, the chair of the Greater London Assembly – Jennette Arnold (Lab), deputy chair of the Transport Committee – Caroline Pidgeon (LD) and various AMs, Islington Chamber of Commerce, Islington Conservative Association, Emily Thornberry MP, the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidates for Islington South and Finsbury and Holborn and St Pancras, Norman Baker MP LibDem Shadow Transport Secretary, the Campaign for Better Transport (previously Transport 2000), Living Streets and approaching 1,000 signatories to a local petition.

 

Network Rail estimates the cost of Battlebridge Crossing to be £4.5 million. This represents approximately 1% of their station redevelopment budget and is a tiny amount compared to their contingency fund for that redevelopment. The community campaign has identified a number of recently completed bridges along with their costings in order to identify the scale of project and type of bridge that might be achieved.

 

York
Figure 3. Bridge crossing the River Ouse at York. Cost £4.3 million.

 

The community is keen that the bridge should be a gateway encouraging greater footfall to and from areas that need such urban regeneration including Somers Town and the south end of the Caledonian Road. As such it should be a destination of itself in the manner of the Millennium footbridge over the Thames at Bankside encouraging further visitors to these areas.
Swansea
Figure 4. Sail Bridge in Swansea. Cost £2.8 million.

Lord help us…

Lord AdonisJust sent this to Lord Adonis, Minister of State for Transport:

Dear Lord Adonis,

Further to your recent reply to Emily Thornberry regarding access to King’s Cross Station, your reference AA.l024758,l, I would like to take issue with you that funding for and construction of a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the tracks to the rear of the station is a local matter to be resolved by Camden and Islington councils. My grounds for this are threefold:

1. The growing strategic importance of the King’s Cross St Pancras transport hub  makes this not only a cross- borough issue, not only a London issue but an issue of national importance. Building a nationally important transport hub without linking it into its geographical environment would be unforgivable.

2. Large construction projects where the boundary coincides with that of one planning authority and another are highly problematic. In this case, Camden has no voters to account to on this yet Islington has no power so cannot be accountable to the local voters and businesses whose lives and livelihoods will be affected. A third party needs to intervene to ensure that King’s Cross St Pancras is not allowed to turn its back on a sizable neighbouring community.

3. The principle of accessibility in any large construction project is easily lost and that is exactly what is happening here. The principle stems partly from good practice in equal opportunities, partly from a common sense notion of social justice and partly from the very concept of urban regeneration. Again, the cross-borough nature of the location has made it impossible to properly address this. That Network Rail is being allowed to single-handedly shut down all entrances to King’s Cross removing a centuries old east/west point of access mid-way across the tracks to the rear of the station is appalling. (See http://www.kingscrossaccess.com/2008/08/let-us-back-thr.html)

For these reasons I urge you to look again at this issue. The bridge being called for would be a quick, simple and highly affordable solution to the closure or gating of current entrances. For less than 1% of the station redevelopment budget (a tiny proportion of its contingency fund) the bridge could be built now as part of the current works. This would avoid future disruption and ensure the east/west route is made available as soon as possible after the current north-eastern entrance is closed.

My request is that you intervene with Network Rail. The excuse they give publicly for not building the bridge is that there is no direct business case for them to do so. For a quasi-public body to cite lack of profit to be made by replacing a public amenity they themselves are removing is surely scandalous.

I wrote to Network Rail raising detailed concerns on 7 October this year and am still awaiting their response. (see http://www.kingscrossaccess.com/2008/10/letter-to-netwo.html)

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Sophie Talbot

King’s Cross Community Projects
www.cookie.org.uk/kccp
Subscribe to the blog: www.kingscrossaccess.com
Sign the petition: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/kxaccess/

Islington News

6a00d8345162e169e2010535e8c9f5970b-320wiIf you live in Islington you’ll be getting a copy of the Liberal Democrats ‘Islington News’ through your door. That’s a heck of alot of coverage and each copy carries an article about this campaign (left). So a big thankyou to Bridget Fox, prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Islington South & Finsbury who has been actively involved in the campaign since the start.

The campaign has the support of all the major parties in Islington with Emily Thornberry MP (Labour) having approached the Transport Minister on the issue and Duncan Webster chair of Islington Conservative Association fully on-board. The Conservatives at regional level, through Kulveer Ranger head of TfL, have pledged to do all in their power to get Network Rail to build the bridge we so sorely need. Greater London Assembly members from the Green Party, Labour Party and Lib Dems have all been actively pursuing this.

 

Now – someone needs to take the Transport Minister aside and have a quiet word – the bridge is a quick, easy and cheap project to take on, the only barrier to it is Network Rail. We don’t need a feasibility study, we are asking for the original bridge (below) to be replaced so we know it can be done. What we need is someone to tell Network Rail to get it done and fast. Map 1874
Now that Argent is facing financial problems no-one knows whether the planned buildings next to the railway tracks in King’s Cross Central will ever get built, or what form they will take. We need a bridge now – the Wharfdale Road entrance will be closed soon, the bridge needs to be available to the community as a matter of urgency.

Battlebridge Crossing gets GLAM-ed up

Jennette Arnold, GLA MemberJennette Arnold, chair of the Greater London Assembly and Greater London Assembly member for Islington and Waltham Forest gets a huge cheer from this campaign today. We’ve just learned that Jennette raised the issue of the much needed bridge that would retain east/west access across the tracks at the back of the station with Kulveer Ranger the Mayor’s Director of Transport Policy. She says,

 ”I was heartened that he was supportive of the position held by many constituents that we need this bridge and has written to Network Rail on the 8th of October to make this position clear.”
You can read more about Jennette’s activities by downloading the pdf file: Jennette Arnold Report October 2008.