Residents in Kentish Town and Highgate wards have been in touch with us, very concerned about Network Rail’s plans to rebuild the footbridge that runs between York Rise and Ingestre Road over the two railway lines.
The bridge needs to be raised for the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking line – a great improvement to transport, which will also reduce the amount of diesel fumes in our area. However, the first anyone heard of this – local councillors included – was when a letter from Network Rail arrived on local doorsteps telling us the works would start in November and inviting us to an ‘information event’ to see the plans already in finished form.
The plans are for an even higher set of steps, with no new ramps to help with disabled, bike or pushchair access, and residents are rightly fed up that they have no opportunity to influence these or to ask for other improvements.
Councillor Sian Berry, who represents Highgate, asked Camden Council to intervene, but they replied that under planning rules they can only comment on the appearance of the bridge, and not enforce any other local policies. We believe this is not right, and that Network Rail has as much of a duty as any public service organisation to consider accessibility under Disability Discrimination (DDA) laws, and a moral duty to carry out meaningful consultation.
There are also serious questions about a sewer pipe that runs alongside the bridge, and whether it will be fully operational during and after the works, and if this will affect flood risks in vulnerable Dartmouth Park.
Councillor Berry wrote to Network Rail on 19 October asking for a pause in the works and a meaningful consultation with local residents, and to Thames Water about the flood risk.