The notorious King’s Cross gyratory including junctions on the A501 ring road – Euston Rd/Gray’s Inn Rd/ Pancras Rd/York Way – has had more than its fair share of cyclist injury and fatality. Time to stop this, if Google built GooglebridgeKX, a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists completing the link from The Angel to Marylebone it would make a massive difference. Meanwhile, here’s the petition calling on the Mayor to take action. Hint to Google – how about teaming up with Transport for London to design a fab safe bridge from York Way to King’s Boulevard?
This is the campaign for a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the immediate rear of King’s Cross Station. Until 2012 a Section 106 obligation on Argent (now King’s Cross Central/N1C) required them to allow the bridge to run from what is now the new Google HQ to York Way. The plan was to integrate the bridge into the Google building through a public access area. Google are currently reviewing their plans for the site. We hope they will include the new and exciting GooglebridgeKX.
Click on the slides below to see the case we made for the bridge back in 2008 – or download the Powerpoint presentation by clicking here.
The campaign for a crossing over the railway tracks at the immediate rear of King’s Cross Station, replacing the old Battlebridge Road, scored a major success on 14 December 2010 when the Mayor’s Planning and Housing Committee visited the site of both the station and the King’s Cross Central development. As Conservative GLA Member Andrew Boff explained, “We are here as part of an investigation into public access to effectively privatised spaces”.
Chair of the Committee, Nicky Gavron described our missing bridge as, “absolutely impossible and needs to be overcome. So many people live on the east side and yet cannot have the access they used to have to the station, to the tube station and the front and they have to go all the way round. There was a bridge in the original planning application but nobody is following through on it. There’s a very easy solution to this but somebody’s got to take responsibility”.
We look forward to seeing the results of the Committee’s visit, watch this space. Meanwhile the Network Rail team behind the station redevelopment will be on hand to answer questions from Monday 17th January to Friday 21st January between 7am and 7pm when a public exhibition will open at King’s Cross Station.
If you would like to ask them to provide the much needed bridge, do go along and put your points to the team. And of course, let us know how you get on and what their response is by emailing us.
Phillip Hammond, the new Secretary of State for Transport was whisked to Kings Cross in his first few days in the job to ‘open’ the new Platform Zero on 20 May. Platform Zero and the Eastern Range offices have become infamous in the area for gross overspending and have featured in the trade press.
The briefing released by DfT and Network Rail apparently provided for the Secretary of State is a hymn of praise for the Kings Cross project and doesn’t mention at all Network Rail’s overspending. Even though arguably the greatest challenge for the new Transport Secretary and his officials is to bring Network Rails’ expenditure under control.
Also apparently whitewashed out is the long, principled and hard fought community campaign opposed to the way Network Rail chose to develop Platform Zero and their own offices – in particular the loss without replacement of a historic access route for pedestrians, prams, wheelchairs etc into the North of the station forcing a huge detour round the outside of the station.
Tipped off by the construction trade press, ‘Kings Cross job doubles its costs‘ a campaign by this website forced DfT to reveal that Network Rail had overspent by tens of millions on the rebuilding of their own offices and Platform Zero. I also notice that the Kings Cross budget, that used to be hazily stated as £400million has now risen to ’Network Rail’s £500m King’s Cross redevelopment‘. But I am told by DfT that we can’t know the precise number lest it reduces Network Rail’s leverage with its contractors.
I thought it was odd that the Secretary of State’s first rail ‘visit’ was to a project notorious for over spend – normally you would send a minister to something unambiguously good for their first trip out of the office.
Local activists weren’t invited to the launch we were told there ‘wasn’t enough room’ – on a train platform over 100 metres long – although we were invited to all the Eurostar festivities despite a long running campaign and behaved ourselves. Smelling a rat, I put in an FOI request for the Secretary of State’s briefing to see what was being said about the overspend on the development and the community campaign. Why would a new Secretary of State agree to his first rail bit of PR be endorsing and overspent project unpopular with the community?
The documents released under FOI - appear to be the entire briefing supplied by DfT and Network Rail officials to the Secretary of State – DfT does not say that any documents were withheld under FOI exemptions.
Briefing on an event is intended to give a Minister the full picture warts and all so that they can decide whether to go or not and to inform them of any pitfalls – policy or reputational. The briefing documents DfT have released omit to mention overspend and also omit the strong grass roots campaigns against the development. This is particularly poor given the new government’s emphasis on spending control and the big society – citizens in control of their neighbourhood.
We know that DfT officials involved in station refurbishment programmes are painfully aware of the issues around Platform Zero and the Eastern Range – because they have agonised in pulling together FOI requests setting it out, which I appealed for internal review at senior level.
My sources tell me that Network Rail still gets hot under the collar when the Kings Cross affair is mentioned – they certainly haven’t forgotten the fiasco that their lack of community engagement caused.
I don’t have a bone to pick with Philip Hammond but there is something strange in how his officials and Network Rail apparently don’t mention in his briefing the severe financial overspend and community unhappiness about the Eastern Range and Platform Zero. Instead they send him there to endorse the project.
So I am sending a copy of this article to Robert Devereux, the Permanent Secretary at DfT, who is in charge of the officials for his comments. If anyone else involved in the project has any further documents or information I’d be happy to publish them here.
Thanks to Will Perrin for this article, see the original here.
Sail Bridge, a beautiful bridge in Swansea. Total cost? Just a snip at £2.8 million.