Lost in the Maze: residents demand station access to be opened

Seren Park photo call December 2011Residents of Seren Park (the new development on the south side of Maze Hill station) and residents of Woodland Heights (the former nurses’ home on the corner of Vanbrugh Hill and Restell Close) held a photocall this morning, December 1st, to urge Network Rail and the developer to see sense and open the path to the Station that they were promised several years ago.

At the time the new flats were given permission six years ago, the council made building a new path from the development to Maze Hill station a condition of the planning consent. But railway bureaucracy has meant the path has been built but still not opened, and while a gate to the path has been installed, it is still padlocked shut.

As well as about ten residents and I, the other two Conservative councillors for the ward were there and have been active in the campaign, which has been cross-party and which I hope will bring results soon. Nick Raynsford MP has also been very active, writing to the chief executive of Network Rail several times about the issue.

While we were there this morning, we saw two commuters squeeze through a hole in the chainlink fencing next to the padlocked gate – clearly people are already voting with their feet and have had enough of going on a detour of 300 or 400 yards to get from their homes to the station. If the path was open, it would only be a walk of ten or twenty yards to the station platform.

Network Rail say they are not bound by the planning condition, as it was signed by Connex, the old train operating company, not by Network Rail themselves. Southeastern Railway (the railway operator that took over from Connex about five years ago) says that they are happy for access to be provided, but that Network Rail has the ultimate say as they own the freehold of the station, which is leased to Southeastern.

There used to be three blocks of flats on the site (then called Restell Close): Lister, Jenner and Norfolk Houses, which provided nurses’ housing for the former Greenwich District Hospital. In those days there was a path used regularly by local people that ran from the end of the cul-de-sac parallel with the railway platform and emerged near the Maze Hill station building.

Network Rail says this was never a right of way, and to reopen a path along a similar route is fine in principle – but only if the developer pays a hefty fee for access rights for their residents (who have of course already paid for their railway journeys through costly season tickets) to walk up a ten–yard path, already built at the developers’ expense, to the station platform.

This bureaucratic muddle has left residents understandably bewildered- all they want is for the path to be opened so they can enjoy the easy, direct access to Maze Hill station they were promised when they bought or rented their flats. They are fed up with years of excuses from Network Rail and the developers, and I can see why.


2 Responses to Lost in the Maze: residents demand station access to be opened

  1. Pingback: Seren Park finally gets its gate to Maze Hill Station unlocked | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

  2. Pingback: Seren Park and Maze Hill station: the path to nowhere carries on… | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

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