Thank the Lord

House of Lords website bannerExcellent news from the House of Lords. In response to our plea below, a well known Peer has today offered to make our views known to Network Rail.

Dear Lord …,

… I am sure you will be unable to enter into a lengthy correspondence with us on this, but I would like to raise just three points in response to the information Network Rail have supplied.

First, and almost on an emotional level, our community sees the station as an integral component. Its history has shaped our community for over 156 years and in all that time we have had access using the entry point at Wharfdale Road that is part of the original Cubitt design. I have been privileged to have lived here for 20 years and to have walked though that entrance almost every day. I now find it a bittersweet experience, like many in our community I am a huge fan of this wonderful station. I find it difficult to put into words how deeply saddened I am that we will lose this historically important entrance to our station. I do understand the foresight Network Rail is showing in building the new Platform Y, and so, despite this great sadness, I completely accept the need for this closure.

Secondly, it is partly in response to calls from our community that Network Rail will be removing the horrible plastic façade at the front of the station. We have long wanted to have the original frontage fully revealed and are very pleased and excited that this is to happen. Our community is not nay-saying this much needed redevelopment. Far from it, for the most part we too wholly welcome the changes afoot.

Lastly, we believe that Network Rail is spoiling the ship for a ha-penny’s worth of tar. The redevelopment is an opportunity to increase the capacity of the station, which is vital. It is an opportunity to celebrate key elements of Cubitt’s vision. It should also be an opportunity to acknowledge the importance and impact of the station to the site on which it sits.  It feels like a punch in the gut to end up feeling so very excluded from the station I have loved since I first used it as a fifteen year old travelling to Leeds back in 1979 and have used on a daily basis for the last twenty years. But I am just one individual; the community on the eastern side of the station faces multiple deprivation and high levels of youth crime resulting partly from our young people feeling disaffected and ignored by the changes around them. Islington is notoriously a polarised borough with wealth and poverty existing cheek by jowl. New developments should be attempting to ameliorate the negative aspects of this wherever possible.  The effect of Network Rail’s closure of the Wharfdale Road entrance and its refusal to build a bridge to replace this loss will be to further alienate our community. The loss of this access not only shuts us out of the station, the underground and St Pancras International but also signals a distinction between the existing community and the new King’s Cross Central development that can only exacerbate this polarisation. A bridge would cost less than 1% of Network Rail’s redevelopment budget for King’s Cross. We are not asking for something unattainable.

Sophie Talbot

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