The station, and the routing to include it (instead of running direct from Clapham Junction to Victoria), would represent £1.0 – 1.2 billion of extra Crossrail 2 costs. It would add 2 minutes to every Crossrail 2 journey south of Victoria, at a passenger time cost of a further £1 billion in present value terms. It would offer no benefits commensurate with such massive expenditure: it would be irrelevant to Crossrail 2’s strategic objectives, would provide only modest transport advantages and offer no scope for economic regeneration or development.
The overall aim of Crossrail 2, according to Transport for London, is to promote jobs in London’s international employment centres by improving transport connections to them from areas further afield and by stimulating housing development in parts of London which do not currently attract developers. A station on the King’s Road would do nothing to meet these goals. Chelsea is not an international employment centre and it already has some of the highest density of housing in London.
The station would have no connectivity to the existing rail or tube network, unlike all the other stations in the tunnelled section of Crossrail 2. It would therefore be used only by people getting on or off at the King’s Road itself. TfL have quoted a morning peak period demand of only around 15,000 users, the lowest of any station on this part of the line. It would not, as the report of the National Infrastructure Commission has pointed out, offer the strategic interchange or crowding relief provided by other stations. In relation to the main transport aim of Crossrail 2, relieving congestion on the South West Mainline, it would have a negative impact by increasing all travel times south of Victoria.
The proposed site for the station is in an area rated by TfL with the second highest score for transport links (6b on the Public Transport Access Level (PTAL)). It is served by six direct bus routes (11,19,22,49,211 and 219) two of which run all night. Four more close bus routes (14,170,345 and 414) run within 250 metres of the site. Two underground stations: it is within 750 metres of Sloane Square underground station and within 850 metres of South Kensington.
Those who live in West Chelsea are of course the furthest away from the underground stations. But a previous plan to build the station in that area was withdrawn because of local opposition.
TfL have confirmed that there would be no oversite development at the station itself. So any re-development would be limited to the work-sites which TfL would compulsorily purchase. Of these the biggest, the Farmers Market, is scheduled for development anyway by its owners, the Royal Brompton Hospital. The other two, on the King’s Road, are already developed and their acquisition by TfL would mean the loss of valued local amenities (a chemist, a bookshop and an art gallery) with no guarantee of their restoration.
TfL currently claim that building the station would create an additional 600 homes over the period up to 2060 (this is down from the figure of 1000 by 2050 which they previously forecast). This equates to only 20 homes a year and it is doubtful whether such “new” homes would be in addition to those that would be built anyway without the station. What is urgently required in Chelsea is more affordable or social housing. TfL has no plans to provide any housing of this kind.
To pay for the station, business rates would have to be increased and there would probably be some form of new infrastructure levy. The small businesses, which give the King’s Road its special character, would be badly hit. They would be forced to close and in their place would come the chain stores and the high end retail outlets. King’s Road would become another cloned high street. This is why so many local enterprises are opposed to the station; and why the big property owners and developers like the Cadogan Estate are in favour of it.
Chelsea has 240 listed buildings, 34 of which are on the King’s Road itself. The proposed depth of Crossrail 2 is 20 metres, shallower than was originally envisaged. The experience of Crossrail 1 suggests that the settlement damage caused by boring the twin tunnels will be significant. There is no experience on which to assess the impact of actually running Crossrail 2’s trains, which are substantially bigger than those used on the underground.
The station would take, according to TfL, up to ten years to build. There would then be a further period, perhaps of at least two years, for the sites taken over by Tfl to be developed by whoever Tfl sell them to. The Farmers Market would be a massive building site. So too would three areas on the King’s Road, including the whole space between Astell Street and Markham Street. Jubilee Place would be shut off from the King’s Road. TfL are currently refusing to confirm or deny whether King’s Road itself would be closed. In relation to a previous plan for an underground station in Chelsea they said that partial closure of the King’s Road, ie one way traffic, would be involved. For local residents the prospect is of ten chaotic years of sheer hell.