The following report by Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond appeared in the Easter 2016 edition of the WPRA newsletter.
Crossrail 2 should bring many benefits to Wimbledon. It will relieve pressure on services to Waterloo, reduce journey times into Central London and beyond, give more local people job opportunities within a 45-minute commute and attract more businesses and jobs to Wimbledon itself by regenerating the Town Centre.
However, I want to ensure that Crossrail 2 brings these benefits with as little disruption as possible to Wimbledon and its livelihood during its construction. I believe that TfL’s current route option does not look like the best solution for Wimbledon and could lead to the destruction of much of the Town Centre.
In my consultation response, I made it clear the current plans will involve a phasing of building which will mean the loss of commercial and retail space, as well as possibly residential, with seven to ten years of upheaval in Wimbledon Town Centre causing negative impacts in terms of noise, road and traffic disruption with the potential environmental/health impact that building pollution will have on local residents and those who work in the Town Centre.
Moreover, the current proposed phasing plans are likely to lead to an effective “shutting down” of Wimbledon for up to seven years, from which I doubt it would recover. Therefore, instead of a regeneration project it would be a death knell.
I also expressed my disappointment that, with regards to the tunnel portal at Weir Road, there was little consideration for other opportunities at Gap Road nor the cumulative impact of the likely building at Plough Lane. There also appears to be little or no understanding of the loss of revenue to Merton Council from business rates generated at Weir Road.
Residents have also been understandably frustrated that only one option was presented for consultation. I made it clear that the current proposals are not acceptable nor are they in the interests of Wimbledon and therefore I could not support them. I have been urging Crossrail to bring forward new proposals and consider and present other options, including a tunnel under Wimbledon Station.
Last month I met with Michele Dix, the Managing Director of Crossrail 2, and I asked for details of the next steps and when they plan to report back on the consultation. I made the case once again that disruption must be kept to an absolute minimum and that other route options must be fully considered. I was pleased to hear that Crossrail 2 are now undertaking feasibility work on a number of alternative options.
Crossrail 2 are also currently analysing the 20,000 consultation responses and aim to produce a report of the consultation in March. This will set out the issues raised by respondents and I will meet directly with Michele soon after this is published to discuss it.
They will then reassess their proposals in the light of the consultation responses and aim to bring forward a new set of proposals in last spring. This will then lead to a further round of consultation, hopefully at the end of the summer, at which point I will hold another public meeting.
I will continue to work tirelessly to secure a route that works for Wimbledon and will continue to keep residents updated. To help do this, I have set up a dedicated Crossrail 2 website with your local councillors: please do sign up to be kept up to date.
Stephen Hammond MP