The announcement that High Speed 2, the fast rail route from London to Birmingham and beyond, is to be built with a station at Old Oak Common in Hammersmith and Fulham means the prospect of a Crossrail station at Kensal Gasworks in North Kensington is very much in doubt, say Labour Councillors.
The site selected for the HS2 station, near Park Royal, will be a major new transport hub. This is not only the ambition of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, but is enshrined in HS2 route planning and includes a future link with HS1 (Eurostar) via Euston:
‘Leaving Euston, the route would descend into tunnel for about four and a half miles, surfacing at a new interchange station at Old Oak Common in north-west London . Passengers would be able to interchange here with Crossrail, the Heathrow Express, the Great Western Main Line and other local public transport. A direct link to HS1 would also run from the main high speed line at Old Oak Common,’ the HS2 website says.
This news comes at a time when the high-profile campaign by Council Leader Sir Merrick Cockell for a Kensal Crossrail station has been under intense scrutiny by opposition Labour Group Councillors.
Labour Deputy Leader, Councillor Emma Dent Coad, said: “A number of serious concerns were never addressed. The Council offered to pay for the station itself, using at least £30m of Council taxpayers’ money. This would be repaid by ‘planning gain’ from the market housing development planned by site owners, Ballymore. But the station would be built at the expense of desperately needed affordable and social rented housing. The Borough could then have ended up with a massive private development and a station, but not one single extra affordable home for our overcrowded families. That is not regeneration, that is gentrification at its most cynical.”
The Gasworks site will now be a Crossrail ‘worksite’, operating 24/7 a lot of the time. Works are expected to start in summer 2013 and last for five years. These, with the threatened work at the Big Table site next to Westbourne Park station and 12 years of construction at Wornington Green, mean that the next decade will be particularly difficult for Golborne Ward, which has the poorest residents in the Borough.
Golborne Councillor Emma Dent Coad added: “It seems that residents in severe housing need will not benefit at all from Crossrail and we know that Wornington Green won’t deliver one single additional social rented home. Despite all our hard work on the Council’s Local Development Framework for the future and constant requests to the Council, there is no Plan B for Kensal Gasworks. Golborne Ward will be a massive building site for the foreseeable future, with little or no benefit at the end of it for local people. We will be working hard to mitigate the potentially disastrous effects on the local community and businesses. This is the result of bad planning by the Council and no amount of spin can counter that.”Other news from Kensington and Chelsea Labour