As readers of this column will know, the Council is a longstanding supporter of the principle of having a Crossrail 2 station in Chelsea.
There are a number of reasons for that support and I’ll give you a quick reprise of them now.
Some of our residents, especially on the western side of Chelsea, are poorly served by public transport; some of them do not have cars, and can’t afford black cabs or even Uber. Crossrail 2 will really help them.
Our air quality is poor and it is reasonable to assume that much better public transport will translate into fewer car journeys and therefore less pollutants.
It should also reduce the number of commuters from the western side of the borough parking near Sloane Square and South Kensington Tube stations all day.
Crossrail 2 would also deliver appreciable extra footfall to the King’s Road, which must surely be good news for our retailers.
And, if all that wasn’t enough, there are two more recent developments which have made the case for Crossrail 2 even stronger. First of all, with Crossrail 1, Crossrail 2, and possibly a Crossrail 3 and HS2 as well, we could be on the brink of a transport revolution across England.
If Chelsea gets a Crossrail 2 station then Chelsea can be part of it.
Clapham Junction would be an incredible three minutes away rather than 32 as at present and Tottenham Court Road would be six minutes rather than 33. With a new station residents could, within minutes, be switching onto fast trains for Heathrow; High Speed 1 trains to France and eventually HS2 trains travelling to the Midlands and the North at up to 250 miles per hour.
Without a station however, our residents will be consigned forever to that long walk or slow bus journey down to Sloane Square for the Tube. Will that make Chelsea such an attractive place to live in 50 years time?
Finally, it is now clear that the Royal Marsden and the Royal Brompton hospitals, our national centres of excellence in cancer and cardiothoracic care, are going to be expanded and modernised in the foreseeable future. It will be pretty wonderful, quite frankly, if a new station is able to deliver staff and patients right to the doorstep via that revolutionised transport network I have just described.
So, as you can see, I think there are lots of reasons why in principle Crossrail 2 could be a real benefit, especially for future generations. It’s plain enough however that not everyone shares my enthusiasm, in fact a rather energetic campaign is underway to stop Crossrail 2 coming to Chelsea at all.
As a resident myself, I know Chelsea is a great place to live so people are inevitably going to be anxious about change and anxious too about the disruption caused by the construction.
We understand that and are working hard with TfL to try and bring more certainty to key questions like where and how large the station will be, and how long it will take to build.
On the issue of the station, we now know that a small site at the southern end of Sydney Street in Chelsea has been chosen as the best location for a Crossrail 2 station.
TfL’s intention is for the station to be modest in scale and integrated into existing buildings, thereby preserving the character of the King’s Road.
The switch to Sydney Street, from the previous preferred site at Chelsea Fire Station, follows earlier consultations with local residents and businesses. TfL says it has listened to concerns and the new station proposals mean that Chelsea Fire Station will not be affected. It also makes plain that it has no plans to build on or dig up Dovehouse Green.
But don’t take my word for it, we are holding a public meeting next Tuesday (3 November) to enable residents to sort out the fact from the fiction for themselves.
TfL’s Managing Director, Michèle Dix, will be there to give a presentation and answer questions. Our Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Tim Coleridge, will explain the Council’s position, and the No Campaign will have its say too.
The meeting takes place at Chelsea Old Town Hall on the King’s Road and gets underway at 6.30pm.