Archive for November, 2009

Ram Brewery inquiry: more photos and a video

Author: Cyril Richert

I was back at the Public Inquiry on Friday to give my testimony (see HERE with other information). It gave me the opportunity to take more photos… and even a very short video of the entrance.

Ram Brewery Inquiry, Capital Studio, Friday 27th

November 30, 2009 at 4:54 pm 1 comment

In the press: secondary school needed in Clapham Junction area

Read also our article HERE.

November 30, 2009 at 3:09 pm

The Ram Brewery Inquiry in a nutshell

Author: Cyril Richert

In order to follow the events of the Ram Brewery Inquiry, I will list below the links to related article and contributions you might be interested to see:

  1. Pre-inquiry note
  2. Reports on the different days (report from week 1 by  Shirley Passmore, Week 1&2 by Sylvia Harrison, report day12 by Julia Matcham)
  3. Photos
  4. Martin Linton MP: evidence (Tuesday 24th)
  5. Wandsworth Society: proof of evidence (Thursday 26th)
  6. Cllr Tony Belton: evidence (Friday 27th)
  7. Cyril Richert: evidence (Friday 27th)
  8. Jonathan Smith: evidence (Friday 27th)
  9. Sylvia Harrison: evidence (Friday 27th)
  10. and many others which I did not receive by email, but feel free to send them and they will be added here.

Contributions can be sent by email to Toby Feltham:

November 26, 2009 at 9:08 pm 3 comments

Ram Brewery inquiry: photos

Author: Cyril Richert

I’ve just come back from the inquiry this morning where Martin Linton made a statement against the scheme (you can read the evidence HERE). I had the occasion to take a few photos, so you can get a taste. I might have the opportunity (more difficult: find the time) to give a representation on Friday.

In this photo, I coloured in blue the towers to put them in perspective.

November 24, 2009 at 12:56 pm 2 comments

Oyster PAYG on Victoria-Balham Services: easier but more expensive

Author: Cyril Richert

Nearly 2 weeks after Oyster Pay-as-you-go was introduce on Southern for trains going between Balham and Victoria (oh yes I forgot to say), I decided to give a try to go to Tower Hill.

Instead of the usual off-peak Travel Card 1 day zone 1&2 from Clapham Junction (£5.60), I used my Oyster card all along :

  • Clapham Junction-Victoria: 6.32pm = £2.10
  • Tube (Victoria-Tower Hill) = £1.10 (due to the fact that Train+Tube , i.e. CJ-TH cost £3.20 overall according to alternative price in the TfL calculator)
  • Tube (Tower Hill-Victoria) = £1.10
  • Victoria – Clapham Junction (11pm) = £1.70 (overall price tube+train = £2.80)
  • TOTAL = £6.00 (capping is £5.60 for off-peak but this is a mix peak-time/off-pick)

What does it tell me?

Train off peak starts after 6.30pm [actually for London terminal I was told that there is no peak hour in the afternoon at all]. Oyster off-peak starts after 7pm. If you do Clapham Junction-Victoria Terminal return between 6.30pm and 7pm it will cost £4.20 on Oyster and £3.50 with a train ticket.

Therefore, if using a £5.60 train travel card (off-peak)  I could have gone from 6.30pm (or even earlier!) and save £0.40. If I wanted to use Oyster I should have waited 30 minutes more 7pm at Clapham Junction and then I will have paid only… £2.80×2=£5.60 [1]

In comparison, using Clapham Common (also zone 2) to go to Waterloo (or even Tower Hill) and return cost £3.20 with Oyster. We can assume that as similar fares apply on all London Underground, with the East London Line implementation it will be the same price to go from Clapham Junction to Canada Water, Shorditch or Highbury and Islington… or Tower Hill. Therefore, you can consider that train companies with Oyster are still charging an extra £2.40 or 75% more than TfL!

Sadiq Kahn, minister for Transport and Tooting MP, said:

I have been campaigning for since I was elected in 2005. It should mean shorter queues for tickets in the morning, cheaper journeys and greater convenience all-round.

It’s not true… and it looks like as reluctant as the train companies were when forced to implement Oyster, nothing was done to improve the clarity of the ticket fares between train and tube. Not DfT’s fault… but something to look in for future franchise.

We need to have the same fares in all travels for the same zone, whatever you use: tube, train, cross-rail or overground!

[1] In how many countries buying a simple return ticket from A to B is the same as buying a full 1 day pass on all the network (same zones)?

UPDATE: 25/11/2009

I am reading in the Wandsworth Guardian:

“From January, travel between zones 1 and 6 will be easier – but as train operators will still dictate overground prices, most similar journeys underground will still be cheaper.

Cllr Guy Senior, executive member for planning and transportation at Wandsworth Council, said:

Passengers will no longer have to deal with frustrating inconsistencies between payment systems“.

… if only it was true!

November 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm 3 comments

Ram Brewery inquiry: report day12

Author: Julia Matcham

Friday 20th of Nov 09 at The Inquiry on DAY 12

Apparently the session had started at 9 am and I arrived at the time it was scheduled to start:10 am. It was eventually ‘adjourned’ at 1.30pm until next Tuesday, so anyone coming to the afternoon session as billed, from 2pm – 5pm’ would have found an empty hall. I guess that sort of thing is unavoidable but one could be forgiven for thinking that starting on Tuesday and either stopping early or missing out altogether the Friday session is very convenient for long weekends, even a City Break.

I have never been to one of these things before so this is an incoherent account of what seemed to be going on. The room was full of important looking persons.

On the stage were the two inspectors. To the right of them and at an angle was a table (also on stage) at which sat whoever was being currently grilled.

Off stage, to the left, side-on to the stage, were two rows of tables occupied by a united front of those in favour of the development. The three QC’s were side by side at the front, but most of the grilling was done by QC Neal Cameron for Minerva and a small amount by QC John Hobson for the Mayor of London.

Off stage to the right and facing the QCs were a similar number of persons (about 12) from Health and Safety team.

When I arrived, currently being grilled at the small table and looking a bit lonely was a representative of the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) Stewart Reston.

Everyone involved had about 4 huge folders of documents, the sort of size that you see when choosing your furnishing fabrics or carpet. So from the start it was clear that all I could do was to use my antennae to guess what they were on about.

Documents were constantly referred to (eg Doc. HSB Page 37 para 4.1); obviously these references were meaningless to local people attending with only a few hours to spare (although heaps of documents were on desks behind the public area). I am not saying that this can be helped, but that that is how it is.

Very fine tuning seemed to be the order of the day. Who exactly should be responsible for applying the Health and Safety rules. It sounded like the HSE felt the Council should have been more, or equally, responsible. It sounded like the Council were being blamed by the HSE for paying insufficient attention to Health & Safety (and hence the recall) while the Council were blaming HSE for not providing enough information.

None of this was crystal clear because it was peppered with references to documents.

Then there was a whole lot more paper shuffling and arguments about the difference between whether ‘due weight’ should be given (to H&S matters) or, ‘great weight’ as was evidently written on a different piece of paper! Gosh it was exciting. And then there a bit about ‘risk versus socio economic benefits’ which ought to have been interesting but wasn’t because it wasn’t really explored. Probably a lot of it was designed to remind the inspectors of points in the applicants favour (supposedly).

Then from QC John Hobson (for the Mayor of London) there was some argument about the validity of HSE recommendations.

It seemed to me the general idea, while subtly manifested, was to discredit the HSE.

As a relief came a change of scene; Stewart Reston was thanked, and a new witness was put ‘in the box’ ,that is, at the table. The new witness looked excitingly different from all the men in business suits. Dr Deaves (hope I have that right) has a beard and looked like a young version of Bernard Shaw. He was a chief engineer with safety and liability qualifications (and a lot more) and was called as an expert witness.

It became clear that he had written a document about which he was to be cross examined.

The subject was in particular the gasholder adjacent to the development and its potential for blowing up and causing at the worst a devastating fireball. Dr Deaves was not found wanting in the examination by QC Neil Cameron for Minerva. Dr Deaves knew how it all worked, exactly, and every circumstance that could happen, and the area of devastation that could occur were these various events to actually take place. He described the physics of the various possible accidents and gave a calm description of the serial failures that could happen and what it would lead to, and how many people would die instantly and the effects of flash fires. He knew the level of ‘societal risk’ there would be if the building went ahead. He knew the thickness of the walls of the rings of ‘our’ gasholder in comparison with others (no worse). He also knew the likelihood of an event was about 10 in 1 million (I hope I got that right).

QC Neil Cameron had evidently read Dr Deaves document with extreme thoroughness and was doing his best for an hour and a half to question every detail, including every turn of phrase, and possible implication. Dr Deaves appeared to be an un-perturbed, accurate, man of Science unburdened by any obligation to anything other than honesty!

The Inspectors diligently took note of every detail.

To be continued in our next…


  1. Martin Linton will speak.
  2. Followed by Fr Deaves being cross examined again.

November 21, 2009 at 12:39 am 2 comments

In the press: government announced more cash for Clapham Junction station


November 20, 2009 at 11:12 am

Ram Brewery inquiry: report from week 3

Author: Shirley Passmore [Wandsworth Society]

The Health & Safety position seems to be that the risk from the gasholder would be classified as ‘tolerable’ [1].

It is not expected to blow up any day soon. However accidents do happen (6-8 a year) and although there are people living now within the vicinity and subject to this tolerable risk they are in a widely-spaced area. It is unacceptable to add hundreds more in a concentrated mass righ t next to the gasholder.

HSE would have expected to be consulted on the development before the application went in but they were not. They have expertise on how to minimise the effects of a major accident by suitable building design. A glass-fronted tower full of people is not the best kind of building to have next to a gasholder.

Mr Williams was cross-examined by the QC Mr Harris, endlessly, and in my opinion rather pointlessly. He was trying to discount Mr William’s evidence on how the HSE measured risks and the distances within which they would be serious in terms of loss of life. Since it is admitted that the risk is not high , one wonders what the questioning proved. The fact remains there is a ‘tolerable’ risk and as one can never tell if/when an accident will happen, it is unwise to put a tower full of people at risk.

I left before the end but more HSE issues tomorrow. Timetable in the AGENDA page. Anyone who wants to speak on day 16 must tell Toby Felpham of WBC.

[1] HSE to be consulted on various development proposals including: proposed development in the vicinity of existing hazardous installations where the siting would increase the risk or consequences of a major accident and development within an area that has been notified to the LPA by the HSE because of the presence of hazardous substances and involves:

  • residential
  • more than 250sqm retail floorspace
  • more than 500sqm offices floorspace
  • more than 750sqm floorspace for an industrial purpose
  • transport links
  • or which would be likely to result in a material increase in the number of people working within or visiting the notified area

The HSE note refers to three progress review papers concerning methodology: in May 2002, August 2002 and 2003/04 (MSDU Bulletin) respectively, which were used to clarify the LUP assessment approach to be adopted within the unit until a new siting policy for gasholders is formally agreed.

November 19, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Cash boost for Clapham Junction station

Author: Cyril Richert

The government has just announced that Clapham Junction, with 9 other railway stations in England,  most in need of modernisation, are to get £50m to carry out urgent improvements.

Already last week, rail operator Network Rail announced plans to spend £3.25bn to improve more than 2,000 stations across England and Wales by 2014: this includes Birmingham Station, but also Leeds, Blackfriars, King Cross… (diaporama on the BBC website).

But Chris Green (appointed by the government to look at the railway – former Virgin Trains chief executive) and Town and Country Planning Association president Sir Peter Hall – have identified 10 that are in need of the most urgent work and that they described as having been “left behind“.

Manchester Victoria was judged to be the worst followed by Clapham Junction and Crewe (customer satisfaction ratings), with all three suffering from overcrowding.

Transport Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis started a tour of all 10, visiting Clapham Junction this morning at 6.30am (argh, missed him! But hopefully Martin Linton, Battersea MP will have passed our message). According to the Daily Mail, he commented on Clapham Junction station and said:

There is no obvious evidence of any investment or modernisation at Clapham Junction for 30 years apart from the installation of some new lifts.

One of Europe’s busiest stations, it doesn’t have a single escalator, the platform canopies cover only a minority of the congested platforms.

There is virtually no waiting area and no bike parking that I could see.

The station badly needs a new entrance which links into the overpass, relieving pressure on the congested tunnel linking the platforms, and this is now proposed.

Local controversy has focused on the extent of commercial development around the station needed to generate the income for the station upgrading.

Network Rail now intends to come forward with a revised scheme to bring about early improvements.

You can read more comments on his tour on the Timesonline website.

He said earlier, commenting on the report from the government’s railway “champions”:

I support the report’s recommendations of minimum standards for stations – classed by size – in terms of information, car and bike parking, facilities and environment.

I intend to make these minimum standards a requirement in future rail franchise agreements with train operating companies.

He also added that rail operators would be required to ensure minimum standards in future.

It is good news for Clapham Junction, at the time where we have just launched an initiative to debate on the redevelopment of the station.

With Martin Linton, we met yesterday with Office of Rail Regulation senior officers. We presented our vision of an improved station and urged the regulators to give the Clapham Junction upgrade high priority for in the next funding round (CP5 – 2014-2019). We will have more to say on the meeting and future actions in a next report but you can already read some of  Martin Linton’s comment (see his website HERE):

“The Government is already installing lifts and building a tube station at Clapham Junction, but it’s still a very overcrowded, old-fashioned station that is in urgent need of better facilities for travellers.

The new entrance opening soon at the top of St John’s Hill will give direct access to the lifts and this will be a huge bonus for the public as well as for people with wheelchairs, buggies, bikes or heavy luggage. But my top priority is to give access to the lifts from the Grant Road side of the station as well.

Together with the Clapham Junction Action Group I will also press for a bigger main entrance with more ticketing facilities and with escalators from the concourse to the overbridge to relieve overcrowding in the tunnel.

We’ve expanded the capacity of Clapham Junction from four-carriage to eight- and ten- and eventually to twelve-carriage trains, and we need more entrances and facilities and escalators to ease congestion and to make travelling a more pleasant experience.

I know that all the people who objected to the 42-storey towers were still keen to get the station improvements and I’m delighted that the Government has come forward with some funds to pay for the most urgently needed improvements.

There’s no reason why we should have to pay for urgently-needed station improvements by agreeing to giant tower blocks which would be totally out of place and I’m glad we didn’t agree to the scheme.

In the longer run we will need even more investment to turn Clapham Junction into a first-class station. It is already Britain’s busiest station with 40 million passengers going through the station every year, but it has the entrance and facilities of a small town station.”

It is exciting to see that things are moving, and fast. We hope to be able to meet with Network Rail as soon as possible to discuss on the new possibilities.


  1. Manchester Victoria
  2. Clapham Junction
  3. Crewe
  4. Barking
  5. Stockport
  6. Warrington Bank Quay
  7. Preston
  8. Wigan North Western
  9. Luton
  10. Liverpool Central

UPDATE 19/11/2009: I am a bit surprised by the press release from the Council (or do you call that “politics“?).  Guy Senior, Wandsworth Council’s transportation spokesman, said:

All the Government is offering is a lick of paint.

£5m or more is expensive for paint, and I wonder then how you could call the £300k that WBC put aside to help improve the new station entrance: a droplet?

Seriously, why not simply say, as we press for, that this funding is welcomed, and we hope that it shows concerns at the government level and that it will be followed by additional funding to eventually make a proper redevelopment?

November 17, 2009 at 4:32 pm 7 comments

Clapham Junction – fit for the 21st century?

Author: Susie Morrow (Trustee, Living Streets / member of Battersea Society)
Article published in the Battersea Society Newsletter, summer 2009 edition.

Recent discussions about proposals for Clapham Junction (or Battersea Junction) station, and the surrounding streetscape, prompt reflection on how this place could be. What would this locality be like, in order to be truly fit for the 21st century?

From a Living Streets perspective, the desired endpoint would be ‘safe, attractive and enjoyable streets for all’. Integral to this would be having the needs of people prioritised over traffic, and involving people in decision making. In this vision, walking would be the natural choice for short journeys.

Urban designers talk about our streets in terms of ‘link’ and ‘place’. These two, sometimes conflicting, dimensions are useful in thinking about how to assess any development or transport scheme. Clapham Junction is, of course, a key ‘link’ in the sense of being a major transport hub, and also has strong claims as a ‘place’ – somewhere people meet to do business, shop, relax, and live; somewhere with a distinct community, history and ‘feel’.

Schiedam cycle gulleyIn terms of Clapham Junction as a ‘link’, I’d say that a well designed 21st century interchange would be one which was viewed internationally as successful, an exemplar even, in promoting ‘active travel’ modes – walking and cycling. In practical terms this would mean things like: excellent accessibility for all within this large railway station; people-friendly vehicle speeds (why not a 20mph speed limit covering the whole area?); and excellent permeability of the area for those on foot and cycling. On this last point, walking and cycling are modes of travel which are very sensitive to distance. Hence the value of a fine-grained street and urban development pattern, with cut-throughs and exemptions from one-way working, allowing avoidance of lengthy detours and opening up route choice for ‘active travel’ modes. Painstaking thought would go into attracting pedestrians and cyclists and creating ‘seamless’ integration with public transport, with continuing efforts to increase the modal share of walking and cycling trips. Lower traffic speeds allow planners to be more bold in creating shared space on busy pedestrian routes. Shared space works well on the South Bank; why not Clapham Junction? In summary, the ‘Manual for Streets’ principles should be applied here; to do this would be to transform it for the better. [1]

As a ‘place’, an exemplar 21st century Clapham Junction would look and feel pleasant, and would be accessible for everyone. Local air quality would be much better than now, and improving all the time as people are encouraged to walk or cycle. Though always busy and buzzy – that’s part of its appeal – our ears wouldn’t be assaulted by traffic noise when we emerge from the station, since almost everyone would arrive by public (and semi-public) transport, walking and cycling. Rather than creating motor traffic by providing numerous residential car parking spaces within the station development, there’d be sufficient car parking spaces for disabled people, with lots of well designed cycle parking for residents and visitors, and spaces for car clubs generously distributed here and in the surrounding area. The urban realm would be both beautiful and functional… aside from a top-quality interchange, we might expect to see features such as a working (!) public clock; attractive seating; trees; water fountains; easily accessible public toilets; kiosks; pocket parks and other play facilities; references to the Falcon Brook; and a cycle repair, storage & hire station. The local community would be diverse and resilient, well connected to the area and with a thriving local economy.

These are some characteristics I’d associate with a ‘successful’ urban realm in Clapham Junction town centre; now, how to achieve this?

[1] Manual for streets. Department for Transport/ Communities and Local Government/ Welsh Assembly Government, 2007. ISBN: 9780727735010

You can also read our article on alternative plans for Clapham Junction area.

November 16, 2009 at 4:44 pm

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