Transport for London accused of being ‘underhand’ in new Southwark tube entrance proposal

Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey has accused Transport for London of being underhand in its proposals to add a second entrance to Southwark underground station.

Greet Street residents and politicians say the plans are both impractical and dishonest, stating the second entrance is only being proposed in order to facilitate the building of offices in the space above the existing station.

Ms Hoey said: “TfL has been underhand about this proposal.

“They pretend it is because the volume of people means we need another entrance but what they really want it for is that they have plans to build above the current entrance which will need to close at some stage, so they need another entrance.

“They have chosen the worst possible option and have had no regard to the residents who live here or the fact that the street is narrow.

“The bottom line is this is not an entrance that is needed and if it is then it is in the wrong place.”

In a public consultation on the plans, TfL said the new entrance was needed due to congestion and rising numbers of passengers.

TfL said there were 16.71 million entrances and exits through Southwark tube station in 2017, a 6.4% decrease from 2016 and double the amount from 2007.

However, London Assembly member and deputy chair of the transport committee, Florence Eshalomi, said the new entrance is not necessary.

Ms Eshalomi said: “While the station is busy as hundreds of people use it, it is not bursting at the seams.”

She said the congestion within the station could be solved by utilising all three station escalators at peak times as opposed to only two.

In September she visited the proposed entrance site with TfL officers and raised the concerns of residents before later writing an objection to Lambeth Council after a perceived lack of communication from TfL.

Members of the Octavia Hill Residents Association, representing residents in the Tait and Benson houses on Greet Street,  protested against TfL’s proposal.

PLANNING STAGES: TfL’s plans for the proposed new entrance on Greet Street.

Association chair Michael Tuppen said: “It’s going to block out the light, it’ll be 20 to 30 feet from bedroom windows. It doesn’t make sense. Of all the places you could put it, you wouldn’t put it in Greet Street.

“It’s just a really horrible scheme. I can’t find anything nice about it to be honest.

“Vehicles have still got to access Greet Street, postal vans, refuse collections, ambulances, there’s just not room.

“It’ll just be dangerous for people accessing the station as well as the residents.”

Members of the residents’ association produced a petition against the proposals, with signatures from 90% of Tait House residents.

Another issue with the new entrance is the proposed opening hours. Mr Tuppen and Ms Esholomi state TfL officers said during the consultation that the new entrance would not be used as part of the night tube service.

However on the planning application, TfL stated the entrance would be open until 1am on weeknights, and 24 hours a day on Friday and Saturday.

Ms Hoey said: “They have gone back completely on promises about opening times.”

TfL said that the opening hours will be refined, taking residents’ concerns into account.

Ms Eshalomi said the entrance would pose security and noise issues for residents which could be exacerbated if it was open throughout the night as some flats are accessible from the street.

She said: “From the plans TfL have submitted they have not taken any residents’ concerns into consideration which is quite worrying.

“I have been very disappointed to see that the promise of closing the second entrance during night tube hours has not been kept and that engagement with residents has been poor.”

She added that a similar proposal to create an entrance for Waterloo East station on the site was rejected in 2009 following opposition from residents and Lambeth Council.

A TfL spokesperson said: “A second entrance at Southwark Tube station will make journeys easier for thousands of customers everyday, as well as supporting the growing number of homes and jobs in the area.

“We carefully considered all the responses to our public consultation and are aware of the noise and security concerns raised.

“As a result, we have amended our design to help address these concerns and we will review further comments made during the consultation process of the planning application.”

In 2015, TfL brokered a deal with the developer Development Securities (now known as U+I) to build residential properties above the station.

These plans required the closure of the existing entrance, necessitating a temporary replacement.

A Freedom of Information request found this deal between TfL and the developer ended in early 2017.

A TfL Finance committee bought out U+I’s shares in the proposal and land the developers owned around the site, including parts of the Styles House flats.

The request said: “In September 2017, following a TfL-led over-station development design study, an opportunity was seen to deliver a commercial office scheme that retains existing station facilities.”

The office development is expected to be around 15 storeys high.

TfL said the existing entrance would now not need to close for a significant period, meaning a temporary entrance was not required.

They added that research showed passenger numbers doubled every five years between 2002 and 2017 and would increase by 40% at peak by 2041, concluding a permanent second entrance should be proposed.

Zoe Kennedy, secretary of the Styles House Tenancy Management Organisation, said that the development requires a large footing which would impact surrounding buildings.

She added Styles House residents hoped to redevelop part of the property into council flats themselves.

“TfL are behaving as if they’re developers, that’s a very frustrating process,” she said.

A public consultation by Lambeth Council, responsible for the Greet Street area, ended in January with largely negative responses.

Southwark Council, responsible for the existing entrance, is now in discussion with TfL regarding the next stages of the proposal.

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