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Could York Road station reopen as shelter for homeless?

Transport chiefs urged to redevelop disused York Road tube station with architects' vision

15 January, 2019 — By Emily Finch

The vision for York Road tube station put forward by Morris + Company

PRESSURE is mounting on Transport for London (TfL) to redevelop a disused tube station after a leading architectural firm won a design competition for their plans to turn the space into a shelter for homeless youngsters.

More than a dozen firms entered the competition, organised by the Mayor of London and New Horizon Youth Centre based in King’s Cross, to transform York Road tube station.

The station has been out of use since the 1930s and was highlighted by the Town Hall in its local plan – the council’s five-year architectural vision for the borough – as a place worthy of development.

The winning idea from Morris + Company, based in Hoxton, would see the station transformed into a homeless shelter and a co-working space for those drawn to the new tech headquarters for Google located nearby.

“We want people in the building to have a dignified experience,” said Polina Pencheva, an architect who was part of the team that came up with the winning design.

The design brief was to support the rising number of hidden homeless people in the city – those who aren’t visibly homeless but do not have secure and permanent places to sleep. The design is called Stepping Stones and there will also be a charity shop on the ground floor to generate income for the scheme.

Ms Pencheva, 39, said: “The design considers all the steps going forwards for the individual and not just in a time of emergency when someone suddenly becomes homeless but what happens afterwards.”

She said by mixing homeless youngsters with young tech workers “they can give each other ideas and support”.

The dormitories for the homeless youngsters will offer them a “cocoon” to make into their own space to prevent it seeming “institutional and cold”, said Ms Pencheva.

Polina Pencheva, an architect who was part of the team that came up with the design for York Road tube station

Ward councillor Paul Convery welcomed the plans but admitted the site was “complex” due to the Piccadilly line that still runs through the station.

He added: “We still want to reopen it as a tube station but we have to persuade TfL, and they are hard to persuade. There needs to be a massive investment.”

Graeme Craig, TfL’s director of commercial development, said: “London Underground uses York Way station to support a number of important operational functions, and these prevent the wholesale redevelopment of the site.

“Whilst in practice it is not possible to develop the station, we were very impressed by the quality of responses to the competition and would like to see some of those ideas delivered elsewhere on our estate.”

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