Close examination of the Network Rail planning documents show that the scale of the proposed refurbishment within Brixton Viaduct will have a far greater impact on the community than anyone, least of all Network Rail or their contractors, is prepared to let on.
If this project follows the familiar pattern of Network Rail developments, both sides of the viaduct, up to and including parts of Popes Road, will require extensive hoardings. large enough to accommodate vehicles, various stores, waste, tools, machinery, WC’s, contractor spaces, meeting rooms, changing areas, provide safe contractor access, and safe working areas for scaffolding and other access equipment to all parts of the viaduct.
The planning documents submitted by Network Rail claim that construction vehicles will utilise the two existing loading bays on Atlantic Road to service the building site, but a project of this scale will bring a huge amount of extra traffic for deliveries and waste removal, all of which will need to operate alongside the everyday traffic on Atlantic Road.
Even if the bus stops in this area are suspended, it will be impossible to manage this amount of extra traffic without bringing Brixton to a standstill. Network Rail are obliged to provide safe passenger access to the station, but with the planned hoarding on Atlantic Road and the main station entrance within the viaduct itself, it is difficult to see how this will happen.
If as expected, all the construction vehicle movements are transferred to Popes Road due to the chaos on Atlantic Road, it will result in a great deal of heavy traffic, contractors and materials having to access the building site from Popes Road and Brixton Station Road.
This will then impact severely on safe public access to Pop Brixton and the other businesses that are not being refurbished in the immediate area and alongside the Recreation Centre.
The arrangements of managing and operating a complex building site in the middle of Brixton town centre, whilst retaining full access for thousands of people each day to public transport, the Recreation Centre, the external market and existing shops is going to be incredibly difficult.
This is exactly why the planning officer attached Condition No. 4 to the planning permission, requiring the contractors to produce a comprehensive safety document in the form of a Construction and Environmental Management Plan, (CEMP), prior to any works at all commencing within the viaduct.
It is therefore of great concern that Network Rail operatives have recently advised some members of the local community that construction works will commence within a short period, irrespective of whether any of the six remaining businesses are still trading in the arches and without the need to produce a CEMP safety plan, which is expressly designed to avoid hazard and obstruction being caused to the users of the public highway and to safeguard public amenity during all phases of the refurbishment.
Are Network Rail and their contractors prepared to put the general public at risk to try and make up the many months that have already been wasted on this development, whilst traders, markets, businesses and the community suffer?
[This article by a local resident who has elected to remain anonymous]
Arches background & resources:
The vote to redevelop Brixton Arches: smear campaigns, doublethink and foregone decisions
Brixton’s A&C Deli: the inside story of a small business destroyed by gentrification, Network Rail & Lambeth Council.