In response to Ian Fry’s letter: Download ian_fry_letter.pdf, here is our reply:
Director, King’s Cross Redevelopment Programme
344-354 Grays Inn Road
7 October 2008
Many thanks for your letter of 20 August and apologies for my delay in replying. Whilst I very much appreciate your taking the time to write to me, I feel I need to raise some rather important points as a result.
Paragraph 2: I understand we agree that the Arup feasibility study doesn’t address the bridge the community is calling for; namely a bridge crossing the tracks at the north-eastern end of the station. The bridge would replace the road bridge built in 1872 and demolished during World War 1 with a pedestrian and cycle bridge. It would have no access to platforms; carrying station users externally from one side to the other creating a faster, safer and simpler walking and cycle route to the King’s Cross/St Pancras transport hub and the new King’s Cross Central Boulevard. I further understand that is LB Camden’s responsibility and not Network Rail’s that it fails in this. It is however extremely frustrating that in response to queries from politicians and the press about the pedestrian and cycle bridge the community is calling for, Network Rail continues to refer to the Arup study. This gives the impression that the bridge would not be feasible. I attach a recent answer given to a Parliamentary Question as an example. It would be very helpful if Network Rail would correct this impression and cease to refer to the Arup study in relation to the campaign for a bridge.
Paragraph 5: As a regular user of train services from King’s Cross to Yorkshire and Scotland, I understand the importance of Platform Y to our rail system and welcome the foresight being shown in constructing it. However, Network Rail is removing a centuries old east/west route of growing importance to the King’s Cross and Somers Town communities in order to build the revenue generating Platform Y. Network Rail should therefore be obliged to provide us with a replacement. This should be by Network Rail either alone or in a partnership led by Network Rail comprising statutory bodies and property developers. The community is not asking for a new facility in pressing for this bridge; we are calling for an amenity we have enjoyed for a very long time to be maintained.
Paragraph 6: The new square and improvements to York Way are very welcome and are improvements of the type to be expected under S106 resulting from a major development. These improvements are separate from the preservation of east/west access. Again, it is frustrating that Network Rail continues to quote these improvements as alternatives to east/west access and it would be helpful if Network Rail would be more precise when mentioning them rather than giving what could be a misleading impression.
Paragraph 7: I find it very difficult to understand why, when Network Rail states it aims to take into account the needs of the community, it refuses to fund the bridge the community desperately needs – particularly when the cost of the bridge is estimated at less than 2% of station redevelopment cost. I can see why Network Rail might want to create and lead a partnership to fund and deliver the bridge as St Pancras International and Transport for London would also benefit from its construction. But total refusal to positively engage with the project appears perverse. The tours for local residents are great and were suggested by Will Perrin; they are a good example of how Network Rail can work positively with our community. Network Rail’s corporate community investment is also very welcome and we would ask that you work with experts in this field such as the Charities Aid Foundation and National Council for Voluntary Organisations, as well as local experts such as Camden and Islington Councils for Voluntary Service to get the best out of it.
Paragraph 8: Community engagement is a vital element of the change process in major developments such as King’s Cross. The change management and community development professions are generally overlooked by developers. The tendency is to take a minimalist approach, putting a limited amount of information out, undertaking only those consultation processes required by statute and pacifying rather than engaging with differences of opinion. My recent experience seems to point to Network Rail being rather inexperienced in the field of change management in the context of community development. I remain hopeful that past mistakes such as meetings promised and never taking place, minimal information provided and only in the station, engagement being seen as a one-way street with debate being viewed as a negative rather than a potentially highly positive input to station redevelopment will decrease in the coming months. I am also keen to work with Network Rail to ensure the outcomes achieved as a result of the station redevelopment are as far-reaching as possible. It would be a terrible shame if a narrow, solely economically driven agenda were to continue to drive this construction programme. Taking a sustainable development approach in line with the aims of Network Rail’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee would achieve so much more not only for King’s Cross, but for all of the redevelopment projects Network Rail is now undertaking across the country.
I look forward to your comments on the above points.