Ealing Broadway Interchange: SEC proposals

 

Comments on presentations by Nick O’Donnell, May & July 2010

 

Preface

 

These comments were prepared before the release of the Ealing Broadway Interchange Study Final Report[1] and the inclusion in the Development Sites Development Plan Document (DPD)[2] of three of the options studied in that report. Our original impression from the confidential presentations made to us was that the strong preference was for only one scheme (the preferred option 1A) would go forward.  We have therefore concentrated on that option in these remarks.

 

We should however point out that the context of these comments is that none of the options presented in the Sites Development Plan (1A, 3 and 4 of the Interchange Study) will in our view meet the minimum long-term requirements for a transport interchange at Ealing Broadway, for the reasons set out later in this document.  Moreover, there would probably be difficulties with proceeding in the short term with either of options 3C and 4, because of the reservation of land under the Crossrail Act[3].  This is in addition to our belief that both schemes as they stand would inflict unacceptable damage on the environment of the Haven Green public open space.

 

Our comments should therefore be seen as relating to option 1A as a short-term measure only, to deal with the problems that already exist and which will grow in the period leading up to the completion of Crossrail.  Further work to deal with the long term issues will still have to be considered at a later date, probably by re-visiting some of the other options contained in the Interchange Study when current funding difficulties and other development opportunities, such as links with any new Arcadia site plans, may permit a less constrained view.    


 

Introduction

 

SEC is grateful to Nick O’Donnell for sharing with us his assessment of the options for an Ealing Broadway transport interchange.  We recognise the problems which apply to several of the options, at least as far as they affect the production of a viable scheme for the immediate future.

 

We agree that the emphasis should be on “a sensible and affordable option that can be delivered in advance of Crossrail”  We believe this should not inhibit a longer-term view of what is required to meet the objectives for the station and its immediate area, most of which were set out in the original presentation of 11 May, and suggest that options for this longer view should be developed and assessed simultaneously, so that planning both for the rebuilding of the station for Crossrail can take these into account, and that they can be incorporated into the emerging Local Development Framework.

 

However, we believe the options being examined do not go far enough towards what should be the minimum objectives, both for the time until the completion of Crossrail and in preparation for the period after that.  Our detailed comments and suggestions are set out below.

 

Context

 

In addition to Nick’s original points[4], we would add the following :

  • Ealing Broadway station is designated for development (site 64) in Ealing’s UDP (saved policy for the emerging LDF)[5] for mixed use (retail/office/leisure) and potential “bus station and interchange” with “development over the tracks”
  • The present station has no step-free access and the entrance can at times be dangerously overcrowded; any expansion in passenger numbers before Crossrail rebuilding could present serious problems
  • Haven Green is a Public Open Space and subject to an application for listing as a “town or village green”
  • The buildings on Haven Green, including the old District Line station entrance, are locally listed, including a Grade II listed frontage (DL Lewis at number 36)[6]
  • Air pollution near the station entrance is well in excess of the EU permitted maximum.[7]

 

 

 

Objectives

 

Any scheme for the area should be judged by how far it goes towards achieving what we believe should be the main aims (both long and short term).  These are to:

 

Preserve or enhance the two Conservation Areas

Protect and improve Haven Green as public open space and village green

Provide suitable “gateway” to Ealing town centre through provision of an integrated public transport interchange, ideally over the train tracks

Improve the experience for both bus and tube/rail passengers

Provide for the expected expansion in station passenger numbers with Crossrail

Safeguard railway land for possible future transport development (eg 5th track to West Ealing)

Deal with other problems, as identified in the Tibbalds report[8]

·        High density of bus stops/ stands around Haven Green results in overcrowding, lack of orientation and bus operation issues

·        Insufficient supply/ un-met demand for cycle parking at Ealing Broadway Station

·        Poor legibility of station area.

·        Pedestrian congestion: Servicing bays on station forecourt form barrier to movement to and from the station and are aesthetically poor.

·        Pedestrian congestion: Lack of capacity for pedestrian movements along Uxbridge Road and across to The Broadway (Ealing Broadway Station).

·        Diagonal (road across Haven Green) forms physical barrier to pedestrian movement.

·        Overcrowding during peak times; capacity issues on station forecourt.

·        Lack of step-free platform access.

·        Lack of Kiss & Ride/drop off facility

Meet similar objectives set out in the Crossrail Scrutiny Panel recommendations[9]

 

 

Constraints

 

Constraints on achieving any immediate significant improvements include:

 

  • No current funding available for a full interchange plan
  • No agreement between the main stakeholders on objectives
  • The south-east quadrant of Haven Green, the BBC/Central Chambers car park and the station forecourt are all safeguarded land for Crossrail works compounds and other uses, and therefore unavailable until at least 2016 unless specifically released (as noted in our preface above)
  • Limits on the capacity of the existing space round Haven Green to meet even present needs, let alone the expected post-Crossrail expansion in passenger numbers.

 

 

 

Problems with finding a satisfactory long-term solution are similar:

 

  • No comprehensive redevelopment plan for the wider area of central Ealing
  • No vision for how public transport, especially but not only buses, will be able respond to demands created by Crossrail and by subsequent economic growth in central Ealing, within the limited area now available
  • No plans for the realisation of a full redevelopment of the whole station site, and consequently no realistic assessment of how cost/benefit ratios of an integrated interchange would be altered in the context of a broader plan

 

 

Proposed strategy

 

To meet the challenges that these difficulties present, Council strategy should be to concentrate on four key aims:

 

1.         Station access improvements

Immediately push hard for access improvements to the station, both a lift for those with limited mobility and entrance/exit capacity improvements for the able bodied. Some suggestions are shown in the Attachment.

Rationale The lift is to deal with a major problem for many people, about 6 years earlier than anything that Crossrail will deliver. The capacity increase is to stop station closures at peak times.

 

2.         Early bus route consolidation

Consolidation of at least two bus routes at Ealing Broadway. This should be implemented at the earliest practical time.

Rationale  To address a current problem with shortage of stands and double parking of buses, and to provide for part of the bus stop capacity increase need to cope with natural and Crossrail bus passenger growth. An immediate approach to TfL would test the commitment of London Buses to consolidation, as well as prove the practicality of such consolidation.

                                                                                                                                                           

3.         New "bus station" public consultation

Press ahead with consultation on all three schemes proposed by Nick O'Donnell for consideration. Such consultation should precede, not follow, funding approval by TfL, so that public views of all reasonable options can be tested 

Rationale  Any one of these would be an improvement in the short term, and should be considered irrespective of any later, more expensive scheme which may never be affordable in the longer term.  Just having such a public consultation would substantially raise the public profile of transport improvements at Ealing Broadway, as well providing a good understanding of the public acceptability of the different schemes.

 

4.         Ealing Broadway Station site master plan

Involve all the stakeholders for the site in the wider regeneration of the centre of Ealing.  This could involve engaging a firm of consulting engineers with a brief to develop a comprehensive plan for the whole of Ealing town centre and to be responsible to project managing it to realisation.

 

Rationale  To achieve the full potential of this site as well as further exploring the possibility of incorporating a bus station within it, to allow for future expansion of demand post Crossrail. A Council initiative is needed in order to ensure that a master plan for the site is incorporated into the emerging Local Development Framework.  

 

Comment on Nick O’Donnell’s preferred option (1A)

 

There are several shortcomings in Nick O’Donnell’s option 1A.  .

  • Improvements in capacity are totally dependant on merging or extending bus routes.  This will relieve the existing pressure, but will not provide adequate new capacity for the increase in passenger numbers expected after Crossrail opens
  • There is no provision for improving access to Ealing Broadway station during the Crossrail construction period.  Though it is appreciated that parallel discussions with Network Rail and First Great Western are being held about this, we believe there should be a better recognition of the importance of the linkage between the bus services and the station itself
  • The scheme provides little or no improvement to the condition of Haven Green as a public open space.
  • There is no provision for public consultation until after TfL funding approval is obtained.  We believe is it important to involve those using the services before rather than after a particular scheme is decided on.

 

The biggest risk with proceeding with a limited scheme such as 1A is that it will be treated by the principal transport undertakings as a sufficient response to the pressures which Crossrail, as well as other natural growth, will place on the area.  We have considered as an alternative approach suggesting that the Council should omit or defer some of the elements from the present option 1A and submit a pared-down scheme as a further alternative for consultation, as a low-cost, temporary and very limited set of short-term actions.  One advantage of this approach is that it would avoid any potential complications which could arise from the reservation of land for Crossrail works, which could cause either of the other two options being considered (3C and 4) from being properly considered or unacceptably deferred.

 

On balance, however, we believe that there are many desirable and necessary improvements contained in Option 1, particularly to the environment for bus passengers, which should be undertaken as soon as possible, and where appropriate added to the measures in the other options (eg the station forecourt).  This should be done in conjunction with tackling the serious difficulties which already exist in accessing the station.  A firm commitment should be made to finding a way to allow step free access from street to station platform level, or as near to it as can be achieved, before the rebuilding rather than waiting until it is complete.  Possible ways that should be explored are shown in the attachment. 

 

Reducing the space needed for bus stands will be essential, to allow for space that will be taken by Crossrail works and also for the removal of stop/stand B.  This can only be achieved in the short term by combining two routes presently terminating at Ealing Broadway to make one new through route, probably as suggested in Option 1A (E1 +E8=E18), as well as the already planned extension of the E10 to Chiswick Business Park. 

 

Further developments

 

Moving on from the initial phase (our strategy point 4 above) should be begun in parallel with the options proposed by Nick O’Donnell.  This is particularly important in the context of the public consultation on the next stage of the LDF for the site (now designated EAL07), and more details of this should be seen as an integral part of that planning process.

 

We would be pleased to develop any of these ideas further.

 

 

 

Haven Green interchange alternative objectives

21.9.10

 


Attachment

 

Ealing Broadway station – temporary step free access

 

Possible alternative locations for level (step free) access to Ealing Broadway station (platforms 4 to 9). (All options would require an extra entrance to the station, with corresponding ticketing and staffing requirements.)

 

  1. Through 7 Central Chambers:  lift from road level to basement level, from there via subway under road to emerge at western end of platform 4.  This could provide direct access to the bus stands under scheme 3C or any variant which used the BBC/Central Chambers car park for a new bus station.  
    Potential problems: Space is currently occupied by “plant” – possibly electricity sub-station?  Would mean combining with any plan for the wider redevelopment of the Arcadia site.
  2. Through 45a Haven Green (old District Line station), through to footbridge level at eastern end of District Line platforms (same as present booking hall level).  Insert lift to platform level behind rail end (existing footway).
    Potential problems:  shop at present on 125-year lease – but two adjoining shops (41 – 43) are now vacant and available.
  3. As 2, but with access behind 41 Haven Green via the roadway to the squash club.  Could also use the presently vacant shop at 41 as a temporary additional station entrance during the reconstruction of the main station. (Lease could be sold on after completion of the main work.)
  4. Through space between 48 & 49 Haven Green or shop no. 1 on forecourt – as 2.
    Potential problems:  not wide enough without demolition of part or all of existing buildings? Shop(s) now let, passageway leads to offices beyond.
  5. Through one of the present shops on the station forecourt, units 7 to 12, through to level of footbridge over rail tracks (also at street level); lift to be inserted beyond edge if Villiers House at location of present station waiting room (platform level).
    Potential problems:  Need to acquire lease(s), though these will be taken over in any case for the main station redevelopment.
  6. Lift and/or ramped access from The Mall via the existing access between NatWest ban building and the old Feathers (Town House) site.
    Potential problems:  Need to secure access rights, and allow for increased gradient between existing station footbridge (platforms 1 – 4) and street level southwards.  Not the easiest route from the Haven Green bus stops/present station entrance.

 

 



[1] Final report by Steer Davies Gleave, August 2010

[2] Ealing 2026 – Development Sites DPD Initial Proposals – September 2010

[3] Crossrail Act 2008: SCHEDULE 5 Temporary Possession And Use of Land; Crossrail Safeguarding Direction, Sheet 309, January 2008.

[4] Slide 2 of Nick O’Donnell presentation 11 May 2010 (“Context”) lists the following:

                      Ealing Broadway Station used by over 20 million passengers per year

                       Station due to be redesigned under Crossrail proposals for 2017 opening

                       Station forecourt is of poor quality, lacking cohesion, identity and function

                       Desire to see an improved interchange between all modes

                       Set in a conservation area with environmental sensitivity

                       Previous interchange studies failed to properly address issues and fully define options

[5] Ealing Council Unitary Development Plan 2004, S 10.21 Development Sites

[6] Haven Green Conservation Area Character Appraisal, March 2008

[7] Fourth Round Updating and Screening Assessment for London Borough of Ealing of air quality for Ealing, June 2009

[8] Ealing town centre Spatial Development Framework, 2009

[9] Ealing Cabinet paper 20 July 2010: http://www.ealing.gov.uk/ealing3/export/sites/ealingweb/services/council/committees/agendas_minutes_reports/cabinet/25may2010-23may2011/_20_july_2010/Item_07_-_Appendix_2.doc