Peter Moth, Principal Transport Planner, Transport for London
Peter’s presentation started by introducing the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) scheme and its interface with London. He said that the 2nd phase of the HS2 project, extending north of Birmingham, would represent a “seismic change” in the rail geography of England.
A key issue for TfL and the Mayor is the impacts on Euston Station (with demand at the station more than doubling) and the need to ensure the number of passengers can be dealt with and dispersed properly. Peter explained how this could partially be mitigated by the delivery of Crossrail 2 to reduce overcrowding on the Victoria Line.
The proposed station at Old Oak Common was also covered in Peter’s presentation which is part of a wider Opportunity Area to deliver 19,000 new homes and 90,000 jobs. There are plans for a HS2 and Crossrail interchange here which will help free up some of the demand on Euston station / central London (diverting 40% of West Coast Mainline passengers away from Euston if linked to Crossrail).
Tom Henderson, Senior Associate, Pinsent Masons
Tom presented on the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process and how the public and private sectors can engage.
The process was established by the Planning Act 2008 which is intended to provide a ‘one stop shop’ to replace multiple consents. It also allows policy on ‘need’ to be declared in advance through National Policy Statements (NPSs) with front-loaded consultation and fixed timescales. However, Tom expressed concern that the system does apply a one-size-fits-all approach which is not necessarily proportional to smaller NSIP schemes.
The process has evolved with further legislation, especially the Localism Act 2011 and the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013. A further review of the regime is being undertaken during 2013. Interestingly, Tom highlighted how business and commercial projects could be considered under the NSIP regime, but questioned whether developers would want to seek this if there is a willing local planning authority on side.
Tom outlined some of the NSIPs being pursued in London, including the North London Electricity Line Reinforcement (decision by April 2014), the Thames Tideway Tunnel (decision by September 2014) and the Silvertown Tunnel.
Sir Peter Hall, Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration at the Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning, University College London and President of the Town and Country Planning Association
Peter’s presentation focused on a need for joined-up transport planning across the capital to ensure London can keep up with its international competitors and deliver sustainable development.
In particular, Peter was keen to stress that radial transport routes are increasingly important in London and the London Overground ‘Orbirail’ has gone some way to improving this as a full circuit around London (although actually is two half-circles!). Another key element is Thameslink which Peter claimed is a true regional rail project, although is often forgotten.
Peter presented on a ‘missing link’; from Heathrow to Reading, Waterloo and Guildord via link to Staines which would provide significantly enhanced rail connectivity in London. He also set out what he saw as a number of missed opportunities for creating true transport interchanges around London such as at Ealing Broadway, Barking Riverside (missing DLR extension), Earls Court, Bermondsey, Loughborough Junction, Brixton and Chiswick Park / Acton Town.
To complement Peter Moth’s presentation, Sir Peter also commented on the importance of Crossrail 2 to fully deliver the benefits of HS2 and avoid over-congestion at Euston station. Sir Hall advocated a rail ‘superhub’ joining Euston / Kings Cross / St Pancras to ensure maximum connectivity.
Sir Peter also advocated a national spatial plan for England, similar to what operates in Scotland and Wales – something which has been consistently campaigned-for by the RTPI.