Collision course over plan to move Victoria Coach Station
After Oxford Street pedestrianisation row, Westminster Council and Transport for London clash again over proposed £350million switch
25 January, 2019 — By Helen Chapman
The Art Deco Victoria Coach Station opened in the 1930s
WESTMINSTER Council and Transport for London (TfL) are on a collision course for another major dispute – this time over a £350million plan to move Victoria Coach Station to Royal Oak.
It was revealed earlier this month that TfL is considering switching the coach station to Royal Oak – causing uproar among residents in Bayswater, Westbourne and Hyde Park wards in particular.
But Westminster Council – who had public spats with TfL last year over Oxford Street pedestrianisation and the CS11 superhighway – have already written a nine-page objection to the move.
TfL has said they would try to finance the scheme by building a tower including office and retail space at Royal Oak station.
On Tuesday, campaigners and councillors packed into St Stephen’s Church, in Westbourne Park Road, warning of anti-social behaviour, traffic congestion and worsening air quality if the move is allowed to go ahead.
John Zamit, chairman of the South East Bayswater Residents’ Association (SEBRA), said: “We think, as it’s an important international coach station, the government should take note and take an interest, rather than leaving it as a plan for a local coach station. It [Royal Oak] is the wrong place to put it.”
The Grade II-listed Victoria coach station is owned by the Duke of Westminster’s property group Grosvenor and TfL. Various leases for the transport body at the site are due to expire in sections over the next decade.
Fourteen-million people are estimated to pass through the coach station every year. It acts as a convenient interchange between Victoria train station and the tube line. But work on the much-awaited Crossrail 2 line will see at least some of the coach station used as a work site from 2023, according to the Mayor of London’s latest transport strategy.
Bayswater councillor Emily Payne told the Extra: “Residents are concerned about the anti-social behaviour that accompanies any coach station.
“We have been writing to the police on the issue and we haven’t got the numbers to police a large coach station. We don’t have the infrastructure in place to deal with that. We haven’t got the space for it.
“It is a quiet residential area where families have lived for generations.”
She added: “Central London is not the right place to have an international coach station. I would prefer it to be on the outskirts of the city like how coach stations are situated in other countries.”
Graham King, Westminster Council’s planning chief, told Tuesday’s meeting he had written a nine-page letter to TfL rejecting the plan, said to cost more than £350 million.
The Labour Group’s leader, Cllr Adam Hug, suggested moving the site to Heathrow or Stratford.
He added: “[It] would help dramatically reduce congestion in Westminster and improve our air quality. Under no circumstances, however, should coach services be moved to Royal Oak and we will continue to fight until that option is taken off the table.”
TfL bosses have not confirmed the proposed new location of the coach station but said they had not ruled out many smaller stations, a number of larger hubs or just one station.
If it was moved to the Royal Oak area, it would be a 20-minute walk to Paddington station or one stop on the tube.
A TfL statement said: “We know that we will need to adapt operations at Victoria Coach Station as the area is likely to change.
“No decisions have been made on a location and we are looking at a wide range of options across London that ensure the city is adequately served by coaches, while allowing them to operate more efficiently and reduce both pollution and road danger.”