Is there any progress on the Eastern Frontier?

Argent director Robert Evans gave Forum members a picture of successive improvements to the York Way environment over the next two to three years as various plots are built on and road junctions developed in accordance with the illustrative transport plan issued five years ago. Road safety enhancement as well as tree planting and landscaping will make York Way a more pleasant border road. Though Argent believed that making land available for temporary uses would be difficult, Forum members were encouraged to hear that some of these improvements would be sooner than we feared, as most of the developments in the next two to three years are along York Way.

Less hopeful was the news that no improvements to bus services can be expected in the near future. Trigger points leading to funding for buses by Argent would not be reached for some time yet. They are written into the Section 106 agreement for King’s Cross Central and depend on amounts of floor area built – delayed development because of economic circumstances will mean later achievement of these stages (differently for the portions south and north of Regent’s Canal).

The ‘powers that be’ did not send speakers to the Forum meeting on 11 February. Forum members wanted to engage with Camden Council and Transport for London, and would have been glad to see representation from Islington Council about improving the desolate and dangerous pedestrian experience along York Way, the eastern border of King’s Cross Central development and boundary between the two boroughs. We want better transport along York Way and inside the site from first occupation.

Though Camden Council and Transport for London provided statements, they made no proposals for improving the bus service by, for instance, diverting another bus serving route Kings Cross (such as 17, 91 or 259) to use a greater section of York Way along with the fairly infrequent 390. They offered a plan worked out a few years ago to route some buses through the site when fully developed, with even less bus provision on York Way between Wharfdale Road and Randalls Road.

Camden Council provided this statement:

You will be pleased to know that we have been working closely with Argent, Network Rail, TfL and Islington Council to try and improve York Way. Looking at the northern section of York Way that you have highlighted as being of concern one possible solution would be to consider a possible new crossing point here.  Unfortunately Camden does not currently have funding to undertake such a crossing  but we will continue to try and see whether funding can be identified in the future. As the Argent scheme is built out additional improvements along the east side of York Way including new junctions, crossings, landscaping, lighting and planting will be delivered.

Argent are committed to improving the junction at Goods Way with York Way with an improved junction with a “green man” on all arms.  However it is unlikely that this junction will be constructed before 2011.  In the meanwhile Camden has recently improved the north-south crossing facility here and made it safer.

We are currently working with Islington and TfL to develop proposals to improve the southern end of York Way, which includes both the eastern and western sides of York Way.  There is also developer funding from Network Rail to improve York Way south of Wharfdale Road. These environmental improvements may include: widened and better paved footways; better street lighting; enhanced crossing points at the Wharfdale Road and Pentonville Road junctions, and minor changes to the location of bus stops and stands. Consultation on this is expected to commence during summer 2010.

Transport for London provide the following statement in response to our request for more and better bus services along York Way north of Wharfdale Road and service to University of the Arts (London) from October 2011:

Future plans for bus services at Kings Cross are stipulated within the S106 agreement for the King’s Cross area, which include a number of changes to the network to ensure adequate provision for the forecast increased demand within the King’s Cross Central development site. The changes include the 390 service moving to serve the centre of the site and two terminating services will penetrate the northern end of the Argent site to cater for the new demand created by the residential development.

At present there are no plans to replace the 390 in York Way; however, once the triggers for the release of the S106 near a full review an evaluation of these plans will be undertaken to assess whether this new service pattern is still appropriate. Please note these plans should be treated as fairly conceptual at present, this work was undertaken to gain an insight into the potential future network requirements and subsequently was in part a S106 mitigation and master planning exercise.

Transport for London also provided a map, which outlined the proposed service changes.
The map could not be uploaded to this website, but copies were available at the Forum meeting. The possible changes showed:

  • Route 45 doing a short circuit from the Boulevard and terminating in York Way without crossing the canal.
  • Routes 46 and 214 going through the southern Boulevard before leaving eastwards to resume their current routes.
  • Route 90 crossing the canal and using the northern Boulevard before rejoining York Way opposite Copenhagen Street.
  • Route 63 penetrating the whole site to a loop around the tallest residential buildings next to the Eurostar embankment.
  • Route 94 coming from Copenhagen Street to the same loop.

Forum members were disappointed to see even less provision for part of York Way (with its only bus, the 390, diverted into King’s Cross Central). They prepared a detailed comment on the routes in each direction which could advantageously be looped into King’s Cross Central.

A further message from Transport for London showed that no specific changes to the bus network were planned for the opening of the University of the Arts London on-site in autumn 2011. Bus route 390 is due for review in the next couple of months as part of the bus tendering programme, but Transport for London would argue the existing route is not infrequent because it runs at 7.5 buses per hour, Monday to Saturday, so it is classified as a high frequency service.

The points made are summarised in the minutes of the meeting.

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