Richard Cornelius also made this lovely video.
Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius has welcomed the Chancellor’s Budget commitment to support a new overground station at Brent Cross.The station will be funded by a combination of a £97m government grant and ring fencing business rate growth from the expanded shopping centre to pay for the remainder. The new station will provide a 12 minute fast link into Kings Cross station.
Councillor Richard Cornelius said: “This is the final piece of the Brent Cross jigsaw after confirming Argent Related as key developers for Brent Cross south. We have been working very closely with the Treasury and the Mayor’s Office to make this happen.
“The Chancellor’s decision today unlocks the potential for the Brent Cross development to create up to 27,000 jobs and 7,500 new homes.
“It is very difficult to overstate the importance of this redevelopment to Barnet. The council is committed to playing an active role in the development of the south side of the site to get the best financial deal for the taxpayer and to play our part in creating a thriving London neighbourhood.”
Sadly there is plenty that this press release doesn't clarify. In fact it raises more questions than it answers.
First the station is not in Brent Cross shopping centre. It is over 1/4 of a mile from it (as the Crow flies). What provision will there be for shoppers to travers the A406 & M1 entrance to get from the shops to the station?
There is also talk that the existing station at Cricklewood may have to shut as part of the scheme. This would be a major blow to the existing shops and High Street businesses.
Mr Cornelius talks about 27,000 jobs and 7,500 new homes. Even if every one of the new homes contributed a new member of staff to the shopping centre, that would be nearly 20,000 extra people arriving and departing at the centre every day, simply to work. This will create huge congestion on roads and already overcrowded Thameslink and Northern Line tube services. It will also drian more economic activity out of struggling High Street centres (such as Cricklewood).
As ever with developments in Barnet, little thought is given to the infrastructure needed to support these extra people. Local hospitals are already at capacity. I am under treatment for cancer at the Royal Free. They cannot currently see me as they do not have enough consultants and meeting rooms. How will they cope with thousands more people in their catchment area. As one in three people are estimated to require cancer treatment during their lifetime, where will they put these extra people, if they can't cope now?
Then there are schools. Where will the children of these "households" go? Not very far on grdilocked roads as the extra 27,000 people turn up for work?
There has been no expansion of tube lines in the Borough since the 1930's and no new rail lines since Queen Victoria reigned. We have a Victorian rail network and an Edwardian tube network in the London Borough of Barnet. In fact the network has contracted, losing a rail link from Mill Hill East to Edgware in the 1960's. No one can argue that we don't desperately need more capacity. We are building a massive new shopping centre, but the council gives not a stuff about how people will get there.
The new Brent Cross Station will only serve to make already overcrowded Thameslink trains even busier. It will do nothing to address the transport and infrastructure problems in the Borough and will hit the Cricklewood shopping centre hard.
I am also intrigued at the time Mr Cornelius quotes as the "fast train time" from Brent Cross. This implies that it will be on the semi fast stopping pattern. Currently trains from Mill Hill are incorporated onto this pattern. Will Mill Hill lose a semi fast service to accomodate the Brent Cross developers? If this is the case, then Mill Hill will become hellishly overcrowded, as it was when First Capital Connect removed these trains in 2005. A hard campaign was fought to restore some of the services. It seems that Mr Cornelius doesn't care for his Mill Hill residents in his plans. It is clear to anyone who knows the stopping patterns that if Brent Cross is to be served, another station will lose out. It is clear which one this will be.
As I said, this news station raises more questions than it answers. And none of the Tory hierarchy in Barnet will want to answer these questions before the election in May.