Bennetts Associates has drawn up ‘hugely improved’ designs for one of London’s key suburban Crossrail stations.
Bennetts director Julian Lipscombe presented the firm’s latest designs for Ealing Broadway station to local figures at a meeting at Portcullis House hosted by the Tory MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Angie Bray, last Thursday.
Bennetts is working for Crossrail on designs for 13 surface stations, including Ealing Broadway. The latest development comes amid an ongoing row over the £15 billion project’s commitment to design quality outside of central London.
Last Thursday’s meeting, which was attended by London’s deputy mayor for transport, Isabel Dedring, follows renewed lobbying of the mayor’s office by figures including Richard Rogers, who last December warned Crossrail was set to produce poorly designed stations that would fail to live up to Britain’s ‘great railway heritage’.
Bennetts’ new design features an enlarged frontage with wider roof, supported by columns cantilevered towards the street.
Renowned planner and local resident Peter Hall, who attended the meeting, said: ‘I thought the new design was a huge improvement in several different ways and has almost cracked the problem.’ Hall added that he and other residents now wished to see Ealing Council and Crossrail push through further changes, including better integration with the public realm.
The meeting follows a letter to Dedring from Hall and Rogers calling for a transformation of the station, which they described as west London’s ‘major transport hub’.The letter called the current station a ‘brutal, soulless and shameful gateway’ and pointed out that Crossrail’s initial plans envisaged passenger numbers increasing by up to 70 per cent ‘without a significant increase in facilities’.
Rogers did not attend the latest meeting but told the AJ he was now more optimistic about Crossrail design. He said: ‘People are beginning to talk about design and heritage. Ealing is not a “back door” but a very important place, and this needs to be a very good piece of design. I think Rab Bennetts and Bennetts Associates can do it.’
A spokesman for Bennetts said: ‘We and our client Crossrail have been working closely with Ealing Council and its architectural advisers to make significant changes to the initial station design submitted last year. Initial feedback has been positive, but further refinement and consultation is ongoing.’
Last week a new report on Crossrail regeneration by the Future of London think-tank called for an insistence on ‘high-quality station and public realm design’ and for a formal design review to be considered on all station proposals.