Network Rail lets Streatham down again
Yet again, Network Rail has closed a railway bridge with little notice to surrounding residents and has completely disregarded the rest of Streatham that suffers from the resulting traffic nightmare, as well. We hear that Wandsworth Council are able to get hold of information about changes to Network Rail's work plans, and can then work to alleviate resident stress; we would like to know, why can’t Lambeth? By the time of publication the Streatham Hill Bridge may again be open, but there are still problems remaining as legacy from the Streatham Vale Bridge closure.
Network Rail purchased the houses at 2 – 4 Ellison Road to speed the development and refurbishment of Streatham Common Station. Apparently they found the previous owners of the houses had left quite a quantity of toxic waste and asbestos behind, needing to be cleared out. One might expect Network Rail to be the responsible developer, and do this work as the owner of the property. Indeed Network Rail spoke of a sale or development of the properties going ahead within 6 months of the bridge reopening. Neither has happened.
The property has not only been left in the state it was found, but Network Rail's contractors also accidentally smashed the front windows of the properties and failed to repair them before they were squatted. There is now also an illegal car sales business in the gardens of these properties. Individuals and community organisations (including me) have tried to follow up with Network Rail unsuccessfully. We have briefed all three opposition PPCs, and will be speaking to Chuka Umunna’s office and following up with Lambeth Council to put pressure on Network Rail to do the right thing, and soon. In a side note, there are a queue of people interested in purchasing or leasing the shop space in the ground floor of these properties to add productive businesses to the area.
Just because the Vales are outside the Business Improvement District, they still need the attention and support of Lambeth Council and Network Rail now, as do other businesses outside the BID. We will be actively pressuring both for this.
UPDATE - 1 November 2014: Police evicted the squatters on the 20th of October after they allegedly attempted to burn the building down having been served eviction notices. The illegal car sales business is still trading.