Case for a Crossrail station gains momentum

01 July 2010

The case for a Crossrail station in North Kensington gains momentum this month when the Secretary of State reviews a planning blueprint which outlines the Royal Borough's case for a station. The case for securing a Crossrail station is a major component of the Royal Borough's North Kensington Core Strategy. A report from the Planning Inspectorate (appointed by the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles), is due in September and will determine if the strategy is "sound" and can be used to guide development in the borough over the next 20 years. If given the go ahead, the strategy will add further weight to Kensington and Chelsea Council's case for a Crossrail station in the north of the borough. Thousands of new homes and jobs will be created in a deprived part of North Kensington if plans for a station get the green light and Council officers are working closely with Crossrail and Network Rail to examine the technical railway issues associated with building a new station. Crossrail will connect central London, Canary Wharf, the West End and Heathrow Airport to areas east and west of the capital. Crossrail requires a "turnback" site in west London to accommodate trains that will make shorter journeys across central London, as far west as Paddington. These trains will need a "turnback" facility in order to change tracks and make the return journey. Of the two possible locations, the 67-acre site in Kensal, North Kensington, is the only option offering regeneration benefits to the surrounding area. It would be the greatest regeneration opportunity the area has seen for decades and its impact would also be felt in south Brent, north Westminster and would help to secure the future of Portobello Road. The alternative site in Paddington won't even provide a new station, just a turnback facility - the only people to get on and off the train will be the train crew. Passengers using the new station in Kensal would arrive in the West End in ten minutes and Canary Wharf in less than 20 minutes, unlocking massive benefits for the area's residents who are currently poorly served by public transport. Trains will run approximately every five minutes. The Kensal site, one of the last major regeneration sites in central London, is capable of accommodating more than 2,500 new homes, plus new shops and community facilities. However, its wide-scale regeneration depends on the new transport links offered by Crossrail. Kensal regeneration area consists of the Kensal Gasworks, a vacant site previously connected to the gasworks, owned by developers the Ballymore Group, the Sainsbury's store and the former Eurostar depot. Under the Council's regeneration proposals, the existing Sainsbury's would be replaced by a new state-of-the-art store that customers could access more easily and would also be supported by a range of other retail, social and community facilities, as well as new homes. The site lies in Golborne ward, recognised by Government as amongst the most deprived wards in the country. Kensington and Chelsea Council has already asked the Mayor of London to give the site official "opportunity area" status. Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell, Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said: "We are lobbying hard for a Crossrail station and firmly believe that nothing can drive forward the regeneration of this part of North Kensington better than securing a Crossrail station. "Not only would our proposals bring thousands of new homes and generate new jobs, but the station itself would bring the whole of the capital within easy reach of our residents, who are currently poorly served by public transport." The Kensal Green site, at 67 acres, is the largest regeneration area that could site a Crossrail station. In contrast, the Paddington Basin regeneration area is 40 acres and the Kings Cross regeneration area is 45 acres.