Major Boost For Kew Bridge Arch Campaigners
Step-free walkway looks possible as Council starts negotiations over lease
Residents of Strand on the Green who have been campaigning for an arch under Kew Bridge to be opened up for step-free access to the Thames Path have had news this week of a significant development.
Hounslow Council have confirmed that they are in negotiations to take over the lease of one of the arches from TfL who currently rent it out on a commercial basis. It is hoped that if the Council can take over the lease the arch can be opened up as a walkway making it much easier to get to the other side of Kew Bridge.
Tony Arbour, the Greater London Assembly member for the area who has been supporting the campaign received an email from the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, this week which stated, "Transport for London (TfL) is aware of the need to make this part of the Thames Pathway more accessible to the local community, in particular to disabled people and those with buggies or prams. Until recently the archway was leased to a private company. TfL is discussing the terms of a lease with the London Borough of Hounslow, who are looking to progress a scheme to convert the archway into a fully accessible walking route along the river. The terms of the lease are still being worked up, but both parties are keen to move forward with this as soon as practicable."
Mr Arbour commented, “It would appear that things are moving, albeit slowly, towards a solution. I will ask TfL for an estimated time-line, but suspect that any dates they give will be very approximate.”
The news was confirmed by Mark Frost, Head of Traffic, Transport & Environmental Strategy at Hounslow Council who said in an email to campaigners, “we are negotiating the lease presently. The expectation is that we will pay for any improvements necessary to open the arch up for public use.”
At present people have to climb up a series of steps if they want to cross from Strand on the Green to the other side of Kew Bridge, or else walk to road level and negotiate a series of intimidating crossings. The Strand on the Green Residents' Association (SOGA) has been campaigning for years on the issue.
Local resident Liz Hagerty who is grandmother to a 16-year-old wheelchair user wrote to TfL pointing out their duty to comply with the 2010 Equality Act. She said the situation discriminated against people with mobility issues, or parents with pushchairs who cannot use the steps and must negotiate "an extremely dangerous and complicated major road junction with traffic coming from six directions."
There are four arches under Kew Bridge, owned by TfL for letting, two of which are leased to the canoe/paddleboarding clubs, another leased commercially, and the fourth, known as Arch 3 is leased by TfL to the St George's, the developers of the residential complex near the bridge. The lease for this arch expired this March and local people had insisted that it would be appropriate for TfL to release if for use by the community. Originally TfL had refused saying their intention was to let it out again and were only prepared to allow it to be used as a walkway if this was done on commercial terms.
October 27, 2018