Regeneration need justifies underground line extension

The Secretary of State for Transport has made an Order for an underground railway line extension in London to regenerate an opportunity area. It was found that substantial economic, townscape and visual amenity benefits outweighed temporary negative effects on residents, businesses and the environment during the construction period.

The Order would authorise the construction and operation of a 3.2km underground northern line extension to a new terminus on the site of the unused Grade II* listed Battersea power station in a predominantly industrial area on the south bank of the river Thames.  The secretary of state considered the justification for the scheme was essentially development led, with almost all of the funding coming from substantial new development including new housing and offices in the nearby opportunity area which generated the need for the proposal which would in turn would act as the catalyst for regeneration.

Although alternative options were considered by Transport for London, and while it was acknowledged that early public consultation could have been more focussed, the secretary of state agreed with the inspector’s judgement that the underground approach would still have been found to be the favoured choice from the alternatives considered and was supported by the National Infrastructure Plan, the 2011 London Plan and a range of local plan policies. The secretary of state also decided that it was not justified to upgrade Kennington railway station to address access issues due to costs, the intrusive nature of works involved and the consequent delay in the implementation of the line extension.

The secretary of state recognised that there would inevitably be some adverse impacts particularly for those living and working around the area of the surface works and that there would be significant harm to nearby heritage assets. However the impact caused by the proposal on residents, businesses and the environment from likely noise and vibration impacts during construction and operation were found to be acceptable with suitable mitigating conditions including using the River Thames to take away excavated material from the construction sites. Therefore while the secretary of state appreciated some temporary impacts would be incurred, the proposed underground line extension would play a crucial role in regenerating the opportunity area and following the line opening, there would also be substantial townscape, visual amenity and economic benefits to be gained.

Inspector: Stuart Nixon; Inquiry


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