A group of architects – West London Link – first proposed the idea, which has garnered support from a number of quarters, including the council and the HammersmithLondon BID. Now a group will meet to progress the campaign to make the concept a reality.
One of the ideas the stakeholder group will consider is commissioning a full economic study of the benefits of a tunnelled scheme.
At the same time, Neale Stevenson has been appointed as the independent ‘Flyunder Champion’ by LB Hammersmith & Fulham.
Neale, a former President of the Oxford Union and with a background in the city and market research, has lived in various parts of Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) for 15 years. He says his first job will be to bring together all of the various stakeholders who are interested in burying Hammersmith Flyover together.
“As Flyunder Champion my job is to pull everyone together and get as many people as possible talking about the various options for replacing the flyover,” says Neale. “A flyunder has the potential to dramatically change lives for the better and we are starting with a blank canvas.
“Anyone who drives through Hammersmith can see that this ugly 1960 structure casts a long shadow over our divided town centre and local people are absolutely integral in the debate about what should replace it. With a tunnel we could, at a stroke, make Hammersmith whole again. At the same time we could dramatically improve local transport links and air quality and make our town centre an even better place to live in, work in or visit.”
H&F Council backs the idea of a tunnel replacement and has started work on a feasibility study, as part of its Get Moving transport campaign, to explore the various options. CH2M Hill Halcrow, who have offices in Hammersmith, are set to explore the ground conditions in the area as part of a geo-technical study to feed into the council’s report. The council’s study is looking into how a tunnel would best improve traffic flow; reconnect the town centre with the river and improve air quality as well as investigating ways to pay for the tunnel.
“It is clear that a flyunder would be transformational for Hammersmith but there are so many different ways to deliver it,” continues Neale. “My role is to gauge the aspirations of local people and feed that into the report that will include the various technical details.
“There seems to be a groundswell of support for some kind of tunnel replacement but, as well as working out how ambitious we want to be, we need to have a frank debate about how a tunnel would be paid for. Where should a tunnel start and finish? How much development would we want to see on former highway land if that helps to pay for a tunnel? Would road tolling be an idea that we would accept? Are we ready for the disruption digging would cause?”
“These are just questions at this stage and my job is to chair the debate rather than be a policy maker. By doing that, I hope to be able to fill in some of the gaps and ultimately maximise the benefits for local people.”