At the end of last year Forest Gate and Maryland received a wonderful early Christmas present. We received confirmation that we had successfully bid for funding from Transport for London (TfL) to transform the areas around Forest Gate, Manor Park and Maryland Stations.
These are the stations in the north of the borough that will be served by Crossrail, the major new cross-London rail link taking the existing Shenfield line and extending our links beyond Liverpool Street, through central London and out to Heathrow.
The areas outside the stations will benefit from almost £7m to make them more pleasant for residents and visitors by providing better access to transport networks. We were very pleased at this result especially as we are the only borough that was allocated the full level of funding requested for all our schemes – which I think reflects the quality of the draft suggestions put forward by the team at the Council.
Maryland will receive £3.022m to improve and widen the pavements around the station (which, as anyone will know who uses the station, are currently very narrow and difficult to navigate if you have a pushchair for example). The plans also suggest the removal of the roundabout junction at Forest Lane to be replaced with a raised, signalled T-junction to better serve pedestrians and cyclists which use the area and to address the high numbers of accidents there.
Forest Gate will recieve £2.298m to improve and widen the pavements around the station (particularly outside the Forest Tavern, perhaps the market could even expand into that area?). Removing the left slip road to Woodgrange Road from Forest Lane replaced with a raised, signalled T- junction has also been suggested, again to better serve pedestrians and cyclists by creating more public space. There is also £400k of Council LIP money towards this scheme – so the total cost is actually £2.698m.
The works will also improve lighting, junctions and crossings, as well as create safe and secure walking and cycling routes. This excellent news coincided with the announcement that all stations will have step free access. So overall a great result for us.
However, the submissions are very much just draft suggestions needed to make the bid. The first batch of design and consultation monies will be released in the spring, so we can start a wide consultation exercise on the schemes soon thereafter and I hope you will all feed in your suggestions and opinions.
The consultation will take place at the library, local cafés and amenities and outside the stations. If you are part of a group or organisation who would like to feed in please do get in touch, or if you have any additional suggestions as to where the consultation could be displayed for the public to comment on – the more input the better!
After the consultation, the improvements are expected to be completed by 2019.
Separately but related, a few people have contacted me about the train service from Forest Gate and Maryland which is currently run by Greater Anglia. Anyone who has recently spent a cold, wet morning waiting for a delayed train to find it is packed and you can’t get on (me!) will know without looking at this satisfaction survey released last year that the service is way off being as good as we expect for our residents. So Lyn Brown MP was very helpful in organizing a meeting which you can read more about here.