Monday, April 26, 2010

At last: the North Sheen footbridge is coming... alas, this is not what you expected!

The planning application for the footbridge over the infamous Manor road level crossing has been filed here.

Before your rejoice, I must add that it's not exacly what you were looking for...
Indeed, as you can see from the picture on the left, the engineers have sited it on the wrong side -not where the existing footbridge is, but on the Richmond side.

Which means anyone coming from the South (Upper Richmond road/Sheen road) would have to take one footbridge across, cross Manor road and then the other footbridge to get to the station.

What kind of weird logic was in that engineer's mind?

Also, as John pointed out on the Facebook group Stuck at North Sheen level crossing -it doesn't solve the misery for car users. Not surprising, as this aspect is not taken into account by the "Design & access statement" (who came up with such a document title?):
In the mid 1990's the southern span of North Sheen station footbridge was removed leaving access to the station from the north side of the level crossing on Manor Road only. The barriers of the level crossing are closed for approximately 30 minutes in each hour and this has led to dangerous misuse through people twng to access the crossing whilst the barriers are lowered. A safer system of crossing the railway lines when the barriers are down is required. The
introduction of the footbridge will remedy the safety problem at this location.
Partial analysis, partial solution: the planning application is flawed because they only saw the issue with crossing, not the cars, not the stations access, nor there is any provision for cycle parking, people with pushchairs and cycles or disabled access.

The Conservative candidate, surely seeing an opportunity to throw a spanner in one of Susan Kramer's campaings commented:
I whole heartedly support the proposal for replacing this footbridge that was dismantled years ago leaving a ridiculous half bridge for the last 16 years. The proposed bridge will help commuters accessing the North Sheen Station.

However the current proposal will do little to make life easer for other members of the community, mothers with young children and pushchairs, those that have difficulty walking or climbing, cyclist and those with heavy shopping.

To approve the current design without listening to the excellent suggestions of the local community is a wasted opportunity to build better bridge that will serve the needs of more people in our community. After waiting 16 years for this bridge our community deserves a far better bridge.
Can I urge that the decision on this application go to a full planning committee for approval as soon as possible to avoid any further delay but to allow consideration of local resident?s suggestions for better design, better location and better accessibility, thus making the bridge more of an asset to the whole community and less of an eyesore?

It is a wasted opportunity not to consider the residents suggestions to improve the design ensuring it meets the councils own guidelines BLT 17 on designing out crime and fear of crime.

It is a wasted opportunity not to consider the residents suggestions to improve the design of the bridge BLT 11.

It is a wasted opportunity to not consider the residents suggestions on the location of the bridge to avoid the bridge overlooking residents properties.

Best wishes

Katharine Robinson
Conservative Council Candidate for North Richmond
Conservatives Caring and Campaigning for our Community.

A political attack from someone we haven't heard much on this issue but I would find hard to agree with her points.

Susan, what's next?

See my previous posts on the level crossings:

1 comment:

Ludovic Windsor said...

Here's my comment on the planning application:

1. The crossing is in the wrong place, i.e. not extending the current footbridge to the South
- It does not help much with stations approach, as people coming from the South would have to take a detour and go through no less than FOUR flights of steps to access what is in fact a ground level station!
- I believe that this solution was chosen to avoid moving the signal box and minimise cost. Public useability has been totally excluded from the scope of the planning document.
- It should however be noted that this signal box was installed by Network Rail subesequently to the South side station access footbridge, about 16 years ago. This short sighted decision should be reversed.

2. The footbridge a band-aid solution
- It does not alleviate the automobile traffic issue
- It does not make provisions for disabled access to the station
- Cycle parking is not provided either

3. The real solution is a tunnel under the railways or even better, to bury the railway at this place.
- A level crosssing for a busy mainline has no place in a dense urban area
- There should at least be provisions for access to the other end of the platform, from Manor road on one side and from Upper Richmond road (a footpath could run along the Sheen Court boundary.
- There should be a sheltered bike shed with CCTV.

See my blog post on the subject:
http://richmondtransits.blogspot.com/2010/04/at-last-north-sheen-footbridge-is.html