A comprehensive plan
Following this, over the past year the Sydenham Society have been working on a comprehensive plan to improve the area from Cobb’s Corner to Station Approach/ Venner Road, including the station and its immediate environs. The aim was to develop a series of ideas proposing the creation of new urban spaces, wider pavements, better and safer pedestrian flows and a modern transport interchange linked to a new station. Confirmation in July 2004 that the East London Line Extension would go ahead and would be coming to Sydenham by 2010, lent impetus to our plan and resulted in the Sydenham Society seeking a meeting with senior officers in Lewisham’s Planning and Highways departments to discuss our ideas.
Presentation to Council
Sketch drawings describing our proposals were presented to Council officials at a meeting in early September 2004. These were met with an encouragingly positive reaction by both the Council’s Planning Department and their Highways Department. Since then we have been in regular contact with the Council and at the end of November 2004 we issued a document, entitled Sydenham Gateway: An Urban Design Initiative.
Funding remains a problem
This again was enthusiastically received however funding, especially in relation station proposals remains a major problem. We understand that Darien Goodwin, Head of Transport, has engaged directly in discussions with the rail authorities and we will be exploring further possibilities ourselves. In the meantime we understand that Pat Hayes, Executive Director of Regeneration, has commissioned consultants to cost our ideas for a new station. It is clear to all that the station, in its present state, will struggle to cope with the extra traffic – trains and passengers – likely to be generated by the East London Line Extension, presently forecast to result in an additional 8 trains per hour.
In addition major works will be required to ensure that the station complies with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. Whilst the railway companies are exempt from immediate compliance with the Act, they are nonetheless expected to produce a rolling programme of station improvements over the next twenty years. Our argument is that Sydenham, as one of the busiest stations on the South Central Line, should be at the top of the list for urgent improvements. The Sydenham Society wants to ensure an imaginative, high quality and major re-vitalisation of the area in question. We want our Council, and the other bodies that will be involved, to create a new gateway to Sydenham of which we can all be proud.
- The construction of a new station building with high street entrance and bridge links to the London platform, to include new retail, wc and staff facilities and top quality access for the disabled.
- Works to Cobb’s Corner giving greater priority to pedestrians, with schemes for the separation of traffic and pedestrian flows and safer crossing points.
- The creation of a new south-facing pedestrian space at Spring Hill.
- Defined areas for waste storage and recycling.
- A new public space at Venner Road and provision of bus stops either side of the road outside the station.
Council looking at the practicalities
Darien Goodwin has now told us that the Council is looking very seriously at the practicalities of incorporating the urban design proposals suggested by the Sydenham Society and will be working up a bid for funding two public open spaces during 2006/7. Mayor Ken Livingstone has stated he wishes to procure 100 such spaces created throughout London within the next 3 years, so with luck Sydenham should get at least one!