Children’s playground saved as Tooting campaigners force Crossrail 2 to move planned tunnel shafts

Concerns for the safety of Tooting children inspired residents to band together to petition the Crossrail 2 planning teams to rethink the position of tunnel shafts.

Dan Watkins, Tory candidate for Tooting, helped rally residents alongside the ‘Save the Wandsworth Commons’ campaign to convince the Crossrail 2 planning team to move tunnel shafts set to be built on the Commons and Trinity Fields.

The shafts would have been close to the Skylark Cafe and a nearby playground potentially posing a risk to children.

Mr Watkins, speaking to SW Londoner, said: “We were thrilled when their top people called me up last week and said we’re not going to proceed with the access shafts on that site.”

The site for the tunnel shafts which will provide ventilation and access is now being reconsidered.

Further issues arose when residents pointed out the necessity of the Commons and Trinity Fields for the community.

The scale of the construction was estimated to be the size of ‘half a football pitch of direct activity’ that would have included the creation of busy access roads for materials and trucks.

Speaking about the cooperation of Crossrail and the community Mr Watkins said: “You have to work hand in hand with the council and Crossrail 2 as they’ve done the studies of what’s underground.

“There are other places which need to be looked at and it’s great Crossrail 2 is directly engaging with us.”

While the first Crossrail’s construction is well on the way Crossrail 2 is still being planned.

Tooting residents may have been the first to dispute preliminary suggestions but Mr Watkins alluded to other constituencies with Crossrail 2 concerns.

“I do know of a couple of other areas of the route where there have been issues and they are listening as to what to do,” he said.

Mr Watkins suggested that the Wandsworth success came from being ‘the loudest’.

While Dan Watkins is representing the Conservative bid for Tooting in the upcoming election he said the sitting MP, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, did not seem to be involved with the movement.

Mr Watkins shared that an invite to the public meeting with the Crossrail 2 team was extended to the Labour representatives but ‘they didn’t come along’.

Sadiq Khan has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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