In its report just published (15 March 2016), Transport for London (TfL) has set out the response to its public consultation carried out between 27 Oct 2015 and 8 Jan 2016.
Of particular interest to the Council is the response to question 20 in the consultation:
Do you have any comments about the proposals for a Crossrail 2 station at King’s Road Chelsea?
TfL reports there were 9,822 respondents to that question. Of these, 6,853 respondents used consultation questionnaires provided by the, No Crossrail in Chelsea campaign. Of all the respondents to the survey, 4,865 identified themselves as Royal Borough residents.
Together the respondents to question 20 made a total of 14,716 comments.
A great many of those comments - 8873 - seem to be simple statements of opposition to a station which give no specific reason for objection. Because it is of great importance that long-term infrastructure projects are decided on robust evidence, it appears unlikely that TfL will attach much weight to responses without supporting reasons.
However, a number of genuine material considerations were raised during the consultation. Importantly, TfL has said that over the summer it will publish a response to those issues, which include the impact on the traditional character of Chelsea, whether a station is needed at all, the impact of construction and also the cost.
As is well known, the Council is a firm and long-standing supporter of a Crossrail 2 station in Chelsea. It has set out the reasons for that support in a number of places including in letters to Chelsea residents. Those reasons include air quality, traffic congestion, the commercial benefits and the dramatic improvements in journey times for residents and for people travelling to Chelsea. The Council has also made it plain that it must consider not just the interests of today’s residents but of generations of residents and businesses to come.
But we recognise that some people are worried about a station in Chelsea. Indeed, that is why TfL has modified its proposals so markedly. What is now on offer is a modest station, in a discreet location, with no related commercial development.
We also recognise that some businesses fear that additional footfall brought by the station will mean higher commercial rents. We accept that some businesses are indeed content with things just as they are but we believe there are others who would warmly welcome the chance of new business. We also believe the best long-term guarantor of a vibrant King’s Road is more customers.
The impact of construction is clearly a worry for many, in fact over 600 respondents said so. It is vital therefore that TfL develops a detailed and credible plan for construction that minimizes inconvenience and disruption to our residents and especially those living close to the station and we are working closely with TfL to make sure that just such a plan emerges. During its construction Crossrail 2 will undoubtedly cause some disruption but we believe this can be managed and that talk of years of construction “chaos” is misplaced.
Finally, on the related questions of the need for a station and its cost, it is objectively the case that to the west of Chelsea many thousands of residents are poorly served by public transport, indeed this was one of the key reasons why the scheme was conceived in the first place. Moreover, the whole of Chelsea will benefit greatly from local access to Crossrail 2 which will shorten journey times to key destinations to just a fraction of what they currently are. As to cost, we are convinced that over the long-term, a station in Chelsea will be an excellent investment, for Chelsea and for London.
Our commitment now is to continue to work with TfL to address as many local concerns as possible and to carry on communicating the benefits of a Crossrail 2 station in Chelsea to local residents, and to London.