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TfL puts the brakes on Weston Williamson's South Ken upgrade

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Financial pressures have forced Transport for London (TfL) to put on hold plans for a Weston Williamson-designed upgrade to South Kensington Tube station

The architect has already been given consent for its proposals to add a new ticket hall and eastbound platform for the Circle and District lines at the Grade II-listed Tube station in west London.

The upgrade was due to be the first of two phases redeveloping the site, with an application for an over-station mixed-use block designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) currently lodged with the Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington Council.

However, a finance report written for board members at TfL reveals that the station work is among projects to be put on hold as part of cost-cutting measures. Last month, the body’s emergency budget revealed it planned to reduce capital investment by £525million for 2020/21. 

Paused projects have been chosen because they have ‘weaker business cases or [they] are lower value for money’ and are jobs which TfL ‘cannot reasonably make the case to progress in the current climate’, says the report.

The report specifies that the upgrades to South Kensington station have been chosen because the ‘design and development tenders [for the upgrade work] exceeded original project funding’.

South kensington station upgrade 9

South kensington station upgrade 9

Source:  Weston Williamson 

The transport body is unable to reallocate more money to the job, as it faces financial difficulties caused by a collapse in its income during the lockdown period.

The report forecasts that TfL will require £6.4 billion in funding support over the next two years, with £3.5 billion needed from government in this financial year.

Chris Williamson, founding partner at Weston Williamson, said ‘We are disappointed that TfL is pausing this important project that will bring significant benefits to users of the station.

‘We understand that, given TfL’s reliance on fares, more than any other transport authority, this period of time has been particularly challenging and may result in paused and cancelled projects across the network.’

The decision to pause work on a new eastbound platform will not immediately affect the mixed-use project by RSHP, which is yet to get planning, and which is being co-developed by Native Land.

However, the AJ understands it may affect the timescale for the construction of the proposed four-storey, semi-circular building on the site’s so-called Bullnose (pictured below).

Others job which have been paused include ‘healthy streets’ work at King’s Cross, Croydon Fiveways and Bow, as well as development of the Sutton Tramlink and a new ferry crossing between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe.

The TfL report provided no details on when any of the delayed projects may be taken forward. RSHP has been contacted for comment.

South kensington station landmark bullnose building crop july 2020

South kensington station landmark bullnose building crop july 2020

Source: AVR London

South Kensington station landmark, Bullnose building (July 2020)

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Readers' comments (1)

  • With the financial hit from the virus, and the start of the revenue stream from Crossrail (the Elizabeth Line) receding as fast as the cost is escalating, there must be a question mark over all current TfL capital spending plans.
    Gone are the days when the mayor could involve TfL in trying to legitimise gross abuse of public funds with apparent impunity.

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