A fresh row has broken out over controversial proposals for a West London Crossrail station after it emerged that the local council will consider the plans this week – the height of the holiday season
Plans for the highly congested Ealing Broadway station have become the focus of a row over design since Richard Rogers warned last year that the £15billion rail project would fail to live up to the country’s ‘great railway heritage’.
Architect Bennetts Associates has since overseen changes to the scheme which were hailed as a ‘major improvement’.
However, Rogers renewed his criticism of Crossrail last month after learning that Bennetts is due to be replaced by another firm, Pascal & Watson, on Ealing Broadway and 13 other stations under the scheme’s design and build contract.
Ealing Council’s planning committee was due to consider whether to approve the plans under schedule 7 of the Crossrail Act on Wednesday evening, as AJ went to press.
In a letter to the council sent on Tuesday, spokesman for local pressure group Save Ealing Centre, Will French, said the group was ‘deeply unhappy’ with the timing.
He wrote: ‘We learned late in the day the plans would be discussed now, in the middle of August, when so many people are away…we find it hard to understand why the plans seem to be being smuggled through at this time.’
A spokeswoman for Ealing council said: ‘The council ran a five week consultation following the submission of the revised plans to give residents the opportunity to contribute their views.’
Previous story (AJ 02.06.14)
Bennetts reveals ‘hugely improved’ designs for Ealing Broadway station
A new ‘landmark’ station for Ealing Broadway in west London has been revealed by Bennetts Associates and its client Crossrail
Bennetts is working for Crossrail on designs for 13 ‘surface stations’ in west London including Ealing Broadway and was given a new brief for the busy station after complaints last year that its initial scheme was too limited amid a wider row over Crossrail’s commitment to design quality outside of central London.
Since then, Bennetts has been working closely with parties including Ealing Council and its architect HOK to revise the scheme and last month presented its ‘hugely improved’ plans to MPs and local figures including planner Peter Hall (AJ 01.05.2014).
The station now includes a ticket hall twice the size of the existing one, four lifts and a long timber and steel canopy running the length of the forecourt which ‘reflects the prominence and importance of the station building’, according to Crossrail.
Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council said: ‘Crossrail decided to completely re-think its plans and responded constructively to the design observations we put forward. We are confident that the revised station plans will create a building which works better for people and is of a scale and appearance that benefits Ealing as west London’s premier town centre. ‘
“The council is also currently finalising further plans which will transform the entire area around the station, as well as improve safety and transport links, and upgrade the look and feel of the area. These plans will be announced shortly.’
Last month renowned planner and local resident Peter Hall, who was critical of Bennetts’ initial designs, said the revised plans marked a ‘huge improvement in several different ways’ and that the practice had ‘almost cracked the problem’ (see below).
Previous story (AJ 01.05.14)
Bennetts puts forward ‘hugely improved’ designs for Ealing Broadway station
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.