Better Local Government

CHISWICK AREA COMMITTEE MONITORING
26 MARCH 2001
CHISWICK PARK

Report by: Director of Environmental Services

Summary To inform Members of the outcome of a transport study relating to Chiswick Park development.

1.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

2.1 MEMBERS NOTE THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE TRANSPORT STUDY.

2.2 THAT A LOCAL PUBLIC CONSULTATION EXERCISE IS ORGANISED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND THE RESPONSE IS REPORTED TO THE AREA COMMITTEE.

3.0 BACKGROUND

3.1 The Chiswick Business Park Development is now underway. The first phase is now being constructed and the second phase will commence shortly. When the original planning permission was granted it was subject to an extensive legal agreement which was intended to provide funding for a number of measures including a new passenger interchange station/alternative public transport provision.

3.2 The New Station Trust was to apply for planning permission for a new interchange station (permission granted in July 1997) or, if this was not forthcoming by December 1999, an Alternative Transport Trust would be formed with the sum of up to 16m for a 'similar project'. At the time of the S106 agreement it was evident that there were mixed views on the interchange station, and so provision was made for a study prior to completion of the first phase works to assess ways to maximise the public transport share of trips to the site. To this end, Stanhope, the developer, is in liaison with the two local authorities, Hounslow and Ealing, commissioned a study of access improvements to the site to:-

- identify a package of fundable transport improvements which will minimise the development's dependency on access by private car; and
- ensure that the regenerative benefits flowing from the investment (both in the site and associated improvements) are maximised.

3.3 Urban Initiatives was appointed to project manage and co-ordinate a team including Halcrow Fox, Gibb and Greater London Enterprise (GLE). This report presents the fundings from the work conducted by the team.

4.0 SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

4.1 This study has examined the scope for improving access to the Chiswick Park development by public transport and on foot and bicycle. The primary purpose of the work was to define an appropriate package of investment which could form the basis of a revised S106 agreement between Stanhope and Hounslow and Ealing. The study had to, in particular, establish whether the proposed interchange station close to Bollo Lane should remain as a central element of the S106.

4.2 The study was conducted by a team of consultants led by Urban Initiatives as project managers. Gibb provided advice on the rail infrastructure issues, while Halcrow Fox conducted the modelling work. Greater London Enterprise (GLE) carried out as assessment of regeneration and employment issues as an input to the wider study work, although the scope of this aspect was reduced as it became clear that the inter-relationship was less than originally thought. This report, however, has been independently prepared by Urban Initiatives - based on the information generated by the other consultants - and solely represents their views.

4.3 The access strategy identified through the course of the study has been informed by the various proposals emerging as part of the West London Transport Strategy (WLTS) prepared by West London Alliance (a grouping of the key west London boroughs) and WELL (a public private partnership incorporating major business interests).

4.4 Furthermore, the Golden Mile Integrated Transport Group (GMITG), a grouping of a number of major employers in the Brentford area, is in the process of developing proposals at an early stage, sought to develop synergy between the different interests. There is a need to continue this process.

Key Issues

4.5 A range of access issues have been articulated in this report. However, the key points to note are:-

the site is already well served by public transport in comparison to other west London locations, benefiting from close proximity to five railway lines and eight bus routes. Nevertheless there is scope for improvement and various options have been considered in this study;
the parking constraints are such that approximately 75% of employees will travel by public transport or walk/cycle. This is likely to generate in the order of 2,300 peak hour trips by non-car means, which will significantly enlarge the local "market" for public transport services;
stopping the Piccadilly Line between Acton Town and Hammersmith - either at Turnham Green or a new station at Chiswick Park - has been ruled out by LUL due to the disbenefits to through passengers. This places increased emphasis on this connection to Acton Town station;
local connections to the site are constrained by presence of the railway lines, the nature of neighbouring land uses and the Gunnersbury Triangle nature reserve;
bus routing is primarily east-west currently, though the site can play an important role in enabling new north south route opportunities; and
capacity constraints elsewhere on the rail lines are such that the scope for change is severely limited. The greatest opportunity exists with the North London Line (NLL) corridor, but even in this instance the constraints east of Willesden Junction are likely to preclude an uplift in service frequency.

Preferred Strategy

4.6 Following consideration of wide range of improvement options generated by both the Client and Consultant groups, an access strategy has been developed which consists of:-

a new footbridge connecting the site and Colonial Drive as the principal means of access to the east and Chiswick Park LUL station. This would shorten the walking distance between the site and the station by as much as 30-40%, whilst also improving the conditions experienced en route. It is intended that this bridge would also cater for cyclists. The links between the site and Chiswick Park LUL station are envisaged as being of the highest quality, potentially integrated within development in Colonial Drive;
development of the bus corridor between Bollo Lane and Chiswick High Road is viewed as a vital component in delivering a high quality public transport system for the site. There is concern that the junction arrangements at Bollo Lane - which lie between the two level crossings - will inhibit bus operations, and the scope for enhancing bus priority should be examined further;
one of the primary goals of the bus corridor is to facilitate a strong link between the site and Acton Town station. Consequently, works to improve the interface at Acton Town is recommended, principally focussed on accommodating bus stops close to the station entrance and ensuring that bus movements beyond the station are given appropriate priority;
comparatively modest modifications to existing bus services are envisaged, such as the potential extension of Routes 27 and 94 (which currently terminate close to the site). Three new routes have been proposed based on a dialogue with London Bus Services and reflecting discussions that LBS has had with GMITG and WELL. The precise routings and frequencies are a matter for continued refinement, but in principle the plan is to produce a bus network connecting to a series of local centres (Acton, Brentford, Chiswick, Shepherd's Bush, etc) which results in a service frequency between Acton Town and the site of around 8 to 10 buses per hour in both directions;
Gunnersbury station is, and will remain, an important gateway to the site. The station is likely to experience capacity issues as the site is developed and as bus linkages to the wider area focus interchange patronage at the station. A broad upgrade scheme has been indicated, though architectural studies are required informed by a detailed operational brief;
this study has reinforced the view that the proposed interchange station on the District/NLL offers a poor case for implementation both strategically and in terms of its local benefits for the site. It is unlikely that LUL will agree to the implementation of the proposal and its cost approaching 20m does not offer value for money. However, it is apparent that the NLL component of the station proposal does represent a realistic and meaningful improvement for site access, and provision of a new station south of the LUL corridor linked to both the site and Colonial Drive is recommended.
various permutations for improving the frequency and coverage of the NLL were tested and found to provide widespread access benefits. It is understood that increasing the frequency on the line by 2 trains per hour (tph) would be possible, though Railtrack's preferred option is to route these "paths" along the West London Line. Furthermore, Silverlink is exploring the scope for extending the service to Kingston from Richmond. Given that the Client group is unlikely to control the process it is not recommended that commitments to improvements to the NLL are part of any redrafted S106. However, it is important that the case for the improvements is developed in liaison with Railtrack, Silverlink and SRA.

4.7 Broad capital and revenue support costs for the proposed access strategy have been established, though further work is necessary to refine the estimates. Nevertheless, it is expected that the proposed capital works would cost between 4m and 4.5m, with up to 1m over a 3 year period allocated to "pump-prime" the bus services identified.

Interchange Station

4.8 The preferred access strategy includes the provision of a new NLL station with improved links to Chiswick Park LUL station in preference to the proposed interchange station which has previously formed the cornerstone of the S106. See attached diagram. The reasoning behind this recommendation is:-

LUL has repeatedly stated that the Piccadilly Line would not stop at a station between Acton Town and Hammersmith. This has recently been re-stated as the case and follows a review of the case for stopping at Turnham Green regularly. Indeed it is likely that if an additional stop were to be added that it would be at Turnham Green and not a new Chiswick Park station as the platforms are already in place and the spacing between stops would be more appropriate;
none of the consultees within the transport undertakings (TfL3, LUL, Railtrack, SRA and Silverlink) saw a strategic case for the station and would be unlikely to contribute funding;
whilst a new District Line station would improve access to the site, improved links to Chiswick Park station via Colonial Drive would capture the bulk of the benefits without incurring the costs associated with the station or the disbenefits to through passengers;
locating the NLL station further south improves links to the site, reduces potential problems with South Acton station and the level crossings on Bollo Lane, increases the scope to abstract traffic from Gunnersbury station, and reduces the impact on residential properties;
the accessibility modelling has indicated that the NLL station - in concert with the Colonial Drive link and improved bus package - would produce comparable access benefits for a greatly reduced cost and with minimal risks; and
forecasts for interchange movements has shown that interchange is a small absolute and relative component of usage, while the good linkage between the proposed NLL station and Chiswick Park was found to attract roughly half of the usage of the full interchange station.

Recommendations

4.8 The key recommendations arising from the study are therefore:-

I. The Client group to endorse the preferred access strategy and infrastructure components and to consult as appropriate on the proposed changes.

II. LUL/TfL to be notified of Client Group decision regarding the interchange station and a response concerning the possible future provision of the District Line component obtained.

III. Develop proposals for a "proximity" interchange in liaison with TfL and seek contributory funding for improvement works.

IV. Agree joint bus network and infrastructure proposals with GMITG for detailed discussions with LBS and agreement to service specification and funding arrangements.

V. Liaison with Silverlink, Railtrack and BSI to establish upgrade programme for Gunnersbury station.

VI. Develop proposals for the new NLL station in liaison with the SRA Silverlink and Railtrack.

VII. Reassess capital and revenue support costs.

VIII. Redraft S106 based on agreed improvements and costs.

IX. Develop complementary travel plan measures in liaison with employers for the management of on-site parking, the promotion of public transport usage, cycle facilities and so on.

5.0 LIKELY BENEFITS FROM THE PROPOSED ACCESS IMPROVEMENTS

5.1 The improvements set out above will provide benefits for the following:

- Local residents - improved local links to and through the site and greater public transport accessibility.
- Local businesses - improved public transport access to the local area for employees and customers alike.
- Employers within Chiswick Park development - improved ease of access to work by public transport.
- Commuters - improved access to bus and rail service linking West London to the rest of the capital

6.0 NEXT STEPS

6.1 Officers together with the developer Stanhope PLC organise a consultation exercise on the proposals.

6.2 Subject to the response and Area Committees endorsement of proposals, these to be advanced through detailed feasibility studies in liaison with the transport operators.

6.3 Once the feasibility work has been successfully concluded, a revised S106 agreement will be established (subject to approval by Sustainable Development Committee) and the improvements implemented.

7.0 BOROUGH TREASURER'S COMMENTS

7.1 The Borough Treasurer comments that if consultation is key for the Council in taking forward the process of moving from the old Trust proposal to a revised Section 106 agreement. This will have the benefit of bringing forward the capital monies in an administratively more efficient way.

The cost of the consultation will be met by the developer.