Funding agreement brings new and improved public areas around Crossrail stations a step closer

Posted: 18 December 2012 | | No comments yet

TfL Board approved a £30 million contribution towards the Crossrail public realm project…

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Plans for improved public areas outside stations along the Crossrail route have moved a step closer with the approval of new funding for ambitious public realm improvements.

The Transport for London Board has approved a £30 million contribution towards the Crossrail public realm project, moving the plans an important step forwards and allowing further discussions with local authorities and developers to secure the final tranche of funding required.

As construction along the Crossrail route is completed, Crossrail is required to carry out improvement works outside each of the stations. However, to maximise the long-term benefits Crossrail delivers, more ambitious plans are being developed by Crossrail that go beyond the project’s immediate requirements. These broader plans would see improvements delivered well beyond the immediate station footprints, creating vibrant new spaces to knit in with the wider local area for commuters, residents and visitors to enjoy. Crossrail is leading this design work, with the improvements to be jointly delivered by local authorities and developers.

The recent Crossrail Property Impact Study noted that Crossrail would be the catalyst for wider development at many locations along the new route. Several developers including Land Securities, Grosvenor and Derwent London all highlighted the importance of major public realm improvements to support these new developments, so Crossrail’s public realm plans are crucial in supporting wider regeneration.

The costs of the planned public realm improvements are in the region of £90 million – £28 million has already been secured through the Crossrail budget with a further £30 million provided by Transport for London. The Crossrail and TfL funds now in place will bring more comprehensive improvement schemes a step closer at new Crossrail stations in central London and Docklands and at existing stations across the rest of the Crossrail route such as Abbey Wood, Ealing Broadway, Hayes & Harlington, Ilford and Romford.

Under the wider public realm development plans, improvements would include:

  • 92,000 square metres of improved public space created outside the new Crossrail stations in central London – the equivalent to 4 Trafalgar Squares or 13 football pitches – providing clutter-free public areas for passengers to pass through unimpeded and visitors to relax in;
  • Wider pavements, new pedestrianised areas and additional traffic calming measures outside stations;
  • Transport interchange improvements including improved connections with buses, taxis, cycle parking, and walking routes with improved signage and way-finding;
  • Improved public areas designed to integrate with local streets and buildings, stimulating future development and regeneration around Crossrail stations; and
  • New trees planted, along with new seating areas and meeting places.

The urban realm design work is being carried out some six years ahead of Crossrail services starting in 2018, allowing Crossrail to engage with local authorities and developers well in advance, encouraging their input and further investment in line with the memorandum of understanding agreed by leading partners in 2010. It also allows designers time to consider the wider context of each station area, allowing them to design new public spaces that better integrate with the existing local area.

London’s Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy CBE, said: “Crossrail will transform London’s transport network, massively increasing rail capacity and bringing an additional 1.5 million people within a 45 minute journey of London’s key business and leisure districts. It’s vital that Crossrail also acts as a catalyst for improving the public space in the areas it will serve, which is why TfL has committed £30 million towards the £90 million needed to support public realm regeneration and improve local transport access at locations along the route.”

Andrew Wolstenholme, Crossrail’s Chief Executive said: “Crossrail’s public realm plans are deliberately ambitious, exceeding our own requirements and raising the bar on what any other rail schemes have delivered before. We are using the huge momentum of this project to encourage further investment in new and improved public spaces and regeneration over a much wider area around Crossrail stations. The additional funding secured from TfL is an important piece in the jigsaw and takes us a step closer towards delivering a legacy of improved public areas and new open space throughout the Crossrail route.”

An example of the joint planning and delivery of the public realm plans is Ilford station, where Crossrail is working closely with Redbridge Council to plan and design a range of improvements for the station area, including widened pavements, relocated bus stops and a new pedestrian crossing over Cranbrook Road.

Councillor Thomas Chan, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Property for Redbridge Council, said: “In partnership with Crossrail and TfL we have already completed an urban integration study, carried out by BDP Architects and Hyder Consulting, and are mid-way through companion studies for the other Redbridge stations. We look forward to continuing working with TfL and Crossrail to develop and deliver these exciting plans to transform the public realm within our Metropolitan Town Centre and the Crossrail Corridor.”

The public realm design plans for central London stations have also been carefully developed in consultation with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, now part of the Design Council, who have provided expert design advice from architects, engineers, planners and property developers. CABE’s design review group has played a significant role in advising on the designs for integrated public realm around Crossrail stations.

John Mathers, Chief Executive Design Council said: “Crossrail’s approach has been innovative and ambitious using design to maximise value, secure quality and deliver wider benefits through supporting wider regeneration. The success of the project and individual stations will depend on how they relate to the streets and spaces around them. Over and above the practical functions of the interchanges, Crossrail have realised the potential for public spaces to lift the spirits of station users, create a positive impression for visitors to the city and build new spaces for people to enjoy and use. We look forward to working with the team to ensure that these aspirations are delivered.”

Crossrail is working on the public realm plans with a range of leading architects and designers including John McAslan, BDP, Gillespies, Urban Movement, Burns+Nice and Atkins. Initial urban realm design work has been completed for 16 stations so far, with masterplans for another 12 stations to be completed by the end of 2013.

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