There’s been a lot of new construction among the railway arches between Queenstown Road & Battersea Park stations. 290 flats, shops (including a soon-to-open small Sainsbury’s), offices, a new school… and it’s now pretty much finished. But one part of the plan has yet to appear: the ‘back entrance’ to Queenstown Road station.
This was part of the project from the beginning. It was designed to improve transport to the new flats – as well as allowing more direct and pedestrian-friendly access between the two stations, and allowing people heading from (say) the Shaftesbury estate to ‘cut the corner’ by going through the foyer of Queenstown Road and get through to Battersea Park station slightly more directly. The entrance will be just to the left of the photo above – allowing a direct walk along what is billed as a “bustling new pedestrian high street” to Battersea Park station, whose distinctive arched windows are visible at the end of the street (the new Sainsbury’s will be at the base of that white tower, facing Battersea Park station).
Taylor Wimpey developed what’s been marketed as the ‘Battersea Exchange’ district. They bought most of the land, and have laid out the new streets across the development, which go right up to the back wall of Queenstown Road station – which you can see on our photo to the right. We understand that Taylor Wimpey have generously put up most (maybe all) of the money to help it happen. Trouble is, they don’t own the station itself. And ultimately the timescales for adding a new station entrance are down to whoever actually owns the station building freehold – and they seem to be in no rush to get moving on the building works.
Said works are pretty minor. That small wall in the photo has to go, the overgrown back yard gets paved over, a disabled lift goes in, and the door you can see on the left of the photo gets opened up. The rather derelict outdoor privy visible at the right also goes, to tidy things up a bit. Taylor Wimpey got permission to add a rear entrance in 2014 (planning application 2014/4687), and – after it expired without being used – applied for permission again last year (planning application 2019/1820). South Western Railway, who manage the station on a day to day basis, have been putting in other applications in the meantime- notably one to replace all the lights in the station with ore efficient LEDs (2019/5256) – which is a good idea, but which slightly worryingly seems to assume the back areas will remain unused and that no new entrance will be built.
After half a couple of years of planning and three years of building works, Taylor Wimpey have sold all the flats and are now in the process of signing off on the completed Battersea Exchange development and handing it over to its residents and occupiers.
It’s been a decent project – it has really opened up the previously inaccessible space, it’s worked hard to get the viaducts cleaned up and looking their best, and it has made ingenious use of a very difficult site with lots of different scraps of land and criss-crossed by viaducts. The project also involved complete rebuild of St Mary’s school. It’s a very different kind of project to the generic suburban projects full of cul-de-sacs and ‘starter homes’ that the firm is maybe better known for, but it does continue a long run of central London regeneration projects by the firm, stretching right back to the 1970s regeneration of St Katherine’s Dock near Tower Bridge – which was probably the first of its kind.
But we can’t help but wonder what has happened to the station element! Maybe whoever is ultimately expected to carry out these works is just taking their time. Maybe the money got lost or diverted along the way (though it’s hard for it to get diverted to something completely unrelated to the adjacent development). Maybe this has got tangled up in wider accessibility projects with slower timescales. Maybe everyone’s just forgotten about it… We hope the project hasn’t been abandoned, after all the preparatory work to create access between the back of the site and Battersea Park station.
While investigating the state of this project we’ve been in touch with those involved for their comment. South Western Railway pointed us towards Network Rail & Wandsworth. Network Rail noted that they are supportive of proposals to make stations easier to access and integrated with neighbourhoods around them, that they are working closely with Taylor Wimpey Central London to review their design proposals for the public access route, and that they support the principle of it and a second entrance at Queenstown Road Station. We also spoke to Taylor Wimpey, who are investigating the status of this project and we’ll of course update this article if we receive a further update from them.