Step-free access at Harrow on the Hill Station (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
February 26, 2014
Question By: 
Kit Malthouse
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Mr Mayor, it would be chary of me to lose the chance to raise the issue of South Kensington step-free access with you again under this particular issue.  I am sure you will be aware that Harrow on the Hill gets about just under 9 million entries and exits a year, whereas South Kensington gets just over 30 million - approximately the same number of passengers passing through its doors as Gatwick Airport - and yet remains not step-free despite the proximity to a number of tourist attractions, which are currently inaccessible to those in wheelchairs or those who are struggling with pushchairs.  I wonder whether, given that we have an approaching budget and the Government is very keen on investing in infrastructure, whether you would be willing to ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The answer is ‑‑

 

Kit Malthouse AM:  It is a national asset.  It is not a local station; it is a national station with a similar level of entries as Gatwick Airport.

Answer

Answer for Step-free access at Harrow on the Hill Station (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for Step-free access at Harrow on the Hill Station (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

As you know, I have every hope that we are going to do the same for South Kensington, but as you know it would be totally mad to do the scheme in vacuo without looking at what is happening with the development above what used to be called Dino's - I cannot remember what it is called now - and the opportunity there is there to create something wonderful for the neighbourhood that would yield section 106 revenue and would enable us to fund it.  That is the obvious thing to do.  At the moment, there are some objections to that kind of vision.  Those objections are misplaced and that is what we want to achieve.

 

Kit Malthouse AM:  Part of the issue is - and we have been talking about this now for six years - we have been trapped in this kind of intractable position where no progress seems to have been made in any direction, either saying, “We are not going to do it” or “We are going to do it”.  Yet during those five or six years nearly 200 million people have been passing through the doors of South Kensington, where nothing happens.  The point I am trying to make is that these are national assets that are inaccessible to huge numbers of mothers and indeed people from around the country.  I wonder whether there is a case to be made to national Government for investment into this national asset, because this is a station of national importance, rather than us trying to hope that some developer will come forward who will put money into it.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I think what needs to happen is we need to accept that there is going to be a fantastic development there and not block it.

 

Kit Malthouse AM:  Can I ask you then to put your personal weight behind trying to reach some kind of resolution in the next 24 months to the South Kensington step-free case?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Of course.  My personal weight is uniformly distributed in support of virtually every project around London.  I do have a considerable amount of it to go around. 

 

Kit Malthouse AM:  This is a particularly important and critical one for both the cultural and accessibility ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It is.  I understand that.  It is a source of frustration to me and to you that we have not been able to crack this as fast as we have cracked many other things.  That is because of a basic disagreement between us and residents in that part of London about what kind of development they will tolerate above what used to be called Dino’s.

 

Kit Malthouse AM:  As always, Mr Mayor, you are absolutely correct.  Having said that, obviously South Kensington seems to be treated in a different way from other stations that have been made step-free and step-free access being given to South Kensington seems to be conditional upon there being a development, whereas at Harrow or Green Park or many of the others the money has just been made available without there being an ancillary development.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, but in the case of neither Green Park nor Harrow is it possible to envisage any such development that would yield the corresponding section 106 funds.  Therefore, it is right for us to pursue this in the case of South Kensington and we will.