The public consultation over Crossrail 2’s “Chelsea West” option has given a fascinating insight into the motives of those in charge at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC): it is now clear that all talk of “redevelopment” for the Cremorne and World’s End estates is down to them – and perhaps also London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
What is equally clear is that, even if a station were to be provided at that location, there would be no need to demolish even one flat. Not one. Not that the representatives of RBKC are admitting this, though: there is a flat refusal to rule out demolition on their part, although the Council leader has played down talk of knocking down entire estates as a “scare story”. So who’s saying what?
World's End Estate, with Cremorne Estate at top right
The Council View: while the Council leader is making a great show of denying all the stories suggesting the Cremorne Estate, and at least part of World’s End, would be demolished were Chelsea West to go ahead, the transport spokesman cannot rule it out, admitting that part of both estates may have to go. Space requirements for station entrances were quoted in square feet (so bigger and more scary numbers).
Clapham South: all the space needed for a station entrance. Chelsea West would need two of these
The Network Rail (NR) View: my information is that NR has concluded that there need not be any demolition. The station would be deep underground: all that would be needed are two entrances on the surface, each needing no more than a space of 20 metres square. For a guide, I’ve included a photo of Clapham South on the Northern Line, a single entrance late 1920s station. Entrance, ticket hall and escalator shaft – that is all that is needed (but twice in the case of Chelsea West).
Look who else may be involved. What a surprise (not)
The City Hall View: I’m told that Bozza may come up with some money towards costs, although whether than means the station, or part of some future redevelopment, is not clear. The Mayor may look to raise money from the value of the land after the station is completed (which suggests redevelopment).
The MP’s View: there wasn’t one. Greg Hands has, once again, been absent elsewhere. He has, as far as is known, made no statement other than to urge residents to attend the consultation.
Conclusion: residents of both Cremorne and World’s End estates have good reason to be worried about the motives of their Council and the Mayor of London. There appears to be no reason why there should be any demolition, even if the Chelsea West station option is chosen. Once again, Crossrail 2 seems to be being used as a cover for another of London’s money-spinning redevelopments.
That conclusion has only been reinforced by what has been fed back from the consultation. Of course, RBKC, Boris Johnson and Greg Hands could assure residents that this is not the intention. So why don’t they do that, and do it now?