Bus passengers are missing a bus stop on Tottenham Court Road because a gantry installed by a property developer is in danger of striking passing buses and high sided vehicles.
As a result thousands of passengers have no bus stop on the priority bus route between Goodge Street station and Cambridge Circus due to the Stephen Street halt being closed for more than three months. The stop also serves Tottenham Court Road station.
A passenger complained to Transport for London about the closed stop. In response a customer service adviser explained that “the stop is closed due to the development where they have built a gantry, rendering the stop location unsafe for the buses to pull up”.
The gantry was installed by construction company Kier which took over management of the site at 247 Tottenham Court Road on behalf of M&G Real Estate, the owners of the site, and development managers CO-RE in November last year.
Camden Council gave planning permission for the development in 2021. A construction management plan (CMP) submitted by Keir and approved by Camden in August 2022 described how the site would be managed including any disruption to bus services on Tottenham Court Road.
The CMP stated that the installation of the gantry and welfare cabins would be done by crane and a temporary closure of the bus stop would be needed to facilitate this.
However, the CMP stated: “The bus stop will not be moved and will remain in operation throughout our works.
“Operation of buses will not be hindered during the gantry construction or whilst the gantry is in place.”
A diagram submitted with the plan showed how buses would pass under the gantry.
However, it is clear that the gantry is not installed correctly and does not comply with the plan nor the assurances made by the developer that the bus service at this stop would not be adversely affected.
Fitzrovia News asked if Kier would like to apologise to bus passengers for the inconvenience caused by their construction site. They declined to do so and, instead, submitted a statement denying there was a problem with the installation of the gantry:
“The placement and height of the gantry was agreed in advance with the London Borough of Camden, including a narrow diverting traffic barrier encroaching on the roadway. This was to ensure we continue to abide by the highest safety standards, and so the gantry does not adversely affect larger vehicles and buses passing through Tottenham Court Road. The on-site team will shortly be commencing with works to widen the footpath along Tottenham Court Road, to provide a safe access to stopping buses, allowing the existing stop to reopen,” stated a spokesperson.
During the negotiations on the CMP Camden Council was particularly keen to keep Tottenham Court Road open for bus passengers, and didn’t want construction traffic compromising the bus route within its flagship West End Project manor.
Fitzrovia News asked why Camden is not taking swift enforcement action to press both CO-RE and Kier to rectify the problem and the breach of the CMP. Local residents feel that Camden Council is letting the developer off the hook.
A Camden Council spokesperson said: “The approved construction management plan (CMP) for the redevelopment of 247 Tottenham Court Road set out that the adjacent bus stop would remain operational throughout the works.”
However, Camden claims the gantry is actually installed correctly and complies with the permission it gave for the development, and offered up an explanation of how the situation is going to be resolved.
“While the installed gantry is in accordance with the approved CMP, it requires a build out of the pavement that will allow the bus stop to operate.
“The developer remains in the process of preparing proposals for the pavement build out that meets requirements set by the Council and TfL. Unfortunately, this has meant that it has been necessary to close the bus stop temporarily.
“We are continuing to work closely with TfL and the developer to ensure that suitable proposals can be agreed as soon as possible so that the bus stop can reopen to the public,” said Camden.
In October 2022, planning officers responded to members’ questions about the lack of enforcement in general.
“The Council could not proactively check everything that it approved due to the lack of resources,” stated the minutes of the meeting.
“Commenting further on the Council’s proactive (sic) enforcement, the head of development management informed the Committee that enforcement did not bring in any income for the Council so there was no money to fund additional enforcement officer posts.
“She informed the Committee that it was about the borough sending the right message to developers and people doing work in the borough and was pleased that the Council was reactive as it was, while cutbacks were occurring elsewhere,” according to the minutes.
A TfL spokesperson said: “We are working with Camden Council and construction company Kier to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”
None of the respondents gave a date for the matter to be resolved.