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Bennetts blames budget as McAslan and HOK rework Crossrail designs

Bennetts Associates has blamed ‘constraints on brief and budget’ following Ealing Council’s decision to parachute in HOK and John McAslan + Partners to overhaul its designs for two Crossrail stations

The council’s intervention at Ealing Broadway and Southall follows local criticism of the new stations’ exteriors.

Explaining its opposition to the scheme, the council said ‘the façade and entrance need to have a more innovative design and use more interesting materials.’   

In a statement, Bennetts said: ‘The real issue here is the constraint on brief and budget. The local authorities’ criticisms stem from Crossrail’s comprehensive spending review some time ago, which led to much reduced scope for several outlying stations.’

HOK has been commissioned to rethink the lighting, signage, materials, and facade and forecourt designs at Ealing Broadway while John McAslan + Partners will offer strategic advice to ensure Southall station helps maximise regeneration potential in the local area.

Ealing’s executive director of regeneration Pat Hayes said a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ would help the council find ways to improve Bennetts’ designs without breaking the projects’ existing budget and timetable. He expected the studio’s rival designs to be ready within weeks.

Bennetts’ statement continued: ‘If the feedback from the local authorities through their architects leads to a more ambitious brief and an appropriate budget, we would be delighted to use our design ability and in-depth knowledge of Crossrail’s requirements to improve the stations and their immediate environment for all concerned.’

Commenting on budget concerns, a spokesperson for Crossrail’s delivery partner Network Rail said: ‘We don’t set the budget [and] we have to offer value for money.’

He continued: ‘It is something in an ideal world and if money was no object we might have different designs but money is always an object and we have to look at functionality and efficiency as well as the urban realm.’

A Crossrail spokesperson said: ‘We recognise the importance of getting the station improvements right, which is why we have been working closely with the London Borough of Ealing and John McAslan and partners. We welcome further input on the designs from the council and its architects.’

Crossrail has already applied to the local authority for approval under Schedule 7 of the Crossrail Act for elements of Bennetts’ Ealing Broadway scheme although a date for the decision has yet to be confirmed.  

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