Letter: Three Bridges Station should be our Kings Cross

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Re: Proposed Three Bridges Station forecourt works.

Contrary to the impression conveyed by the consultation documents, safety and accessibility are not normally the only categories of work on which Section 106 type contributions may be spent. Whilst it has now been pointed out to us that the current consultation message is designed to corral public interest and local aspirations away from non-S106-fundable issues such as on-site commuter parking, general impacts of a bourgeoning Gatwick / Crawley transportation hub and those other highway related things that can pigeon-holed off to the East Crawley Local Committee of WSCC, it would seem nonsense to conclude that there is there is a scenario in which a community has to give money back to developers, and that the whole of the available contribution could not be spent beneficially on either option.

Trees and townscape improvement should be planned for inclusion as the basic default option, to account for as much of the contribution sum as necessary. I think that Option 2 plus semi-mature tree planting, inspirational design and top quality materials could very easily account for a budget of £0.6 million. If it transpires that trees and townscape plus the Option 1 highway alterations exceed the contributions budget, I would rate good urban design with trees as more valuable than the removal of the right turn. If Option 1 with its improvement for pedestrians and cyclists and with the best quality hard landscape design and materials can all be achieved for the budget, so much the better, except that

700 vehicle movements that want to go right to Pound Hill is still a lot to force left into Three Bridges, even if the quantity is reduced slightly due to a new Station Hill entrance.

Eastbound Turn-round Route 4 as drawn makes no sense; one way or another it would involve the bit of Hazelwick Road between Mill Road and Hazelwick Avenue which already attracts confusion and danger due to it being 2 way in single carriageway width between parked cars.

A mini roundabout at Eastbound Route 3 would clog up Three Bridges Road at peak times.

If new signal phasing can achieve greater throughput than we have now, even with a U turn phase, then presumably Option 2 should still benefit even more significantly from improved phasing without a U turn phase.

With either option, pedestrian and cycle connections with the north west quadrant approaches - Three Bridges Road / Hazelwick Road / Hazelwick Avenue are still dire.

Townscape recovery / improvement opportunities should have figured in the consultation on how S106 and other contributions should be spent in this very high profile public realm area, particularly in front of the existing car park and utilities area west of the station building. There is no continuity of streetscape. The agglomeration of galvanised security palisades, cycle shelters, new covered way, bus shelter, car park and railway lighting standards all combine with the earlier transmission tower, advertising hoardings and overabundance of highway pedestrian balustrading, not to mention the traffic lights, parked cars, taxis and 36,000 vehicles /day, to look more like a human mincing machine than a gateway of civic pride between Crawley and the national rail network. It should be our equivalent of St Pancras or Kings Cross.

Where we can’t have architecture of quality to define streetscape, we need trees to provide vertical definition in these hard areas. As well as providing a foil to the railway structures beyond, trees between the station car park and proposed drop-off / pick-up area would be particularly beneficial for summer shade to the latter, in addition to other environmental benefits. Trees in such locations, of course, particularly if their inclusion has not hitherto been considered, will need design and budgetary commitment from the outset, probably including special structural soil / substrate preparation, drainage and aeration that may well govern other aspects of engineering design.

Also Station Hill / Billinton Drive, dominated by the brutal steel palisaded, fortified signal box bastion, is perhaps one of the most soulless roads in Crawley, and would benefit from retrofitting with some imaginative highway landscape enhancement.

John Cooban, Three Bridges