Transport for London (TfL) have confirmed plans to transform South Kensington Tube station, which will see the station upgraded and the surrounding land sensitively developed, reflecting its status as an iconic gateway to one of London’s most beloved cultural areas.
TfL has selected Native Land as its preferred joint venture partner to develop the land owned by TfL around the station. The development will be respectful to the character of the local area and will provide step-free access to the District and Circle line platforms via a new entrance on Thurloe Street. The scheme will also improve access to the pedestrian subway leading to local destinations including the Science Museum, Imperial College, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
South Kensington Tube station, is one of the busiest stations on the Tube network, welcoming over 34 million District and Circle and Piccadilly line customers a year to London’s museum quarter. Improving the station and providing step-free access will support the delivery of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, which aims to reduce reliance on car journeys, encourage greater use of public transport and make London more accessible for all Londoners.
A key part of the development will be the ability to improve the properties around the station including the four storey buildings at 20-34 Thurloe Street, with the potential to create new opportunities along TfL’s stretch of land on Pelham Street to Thurloe Square and on the distinctive Bullnose building. The site also includes the main station entrances through the Grade II listed shopping arcade, which will be preserved and further restored, and a second entrance via the Grade II listed pedestrian subway.
Subject to contracts, TfL will now work with Native Land and their preferred architecture firm, Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, to develop proposals for the site. Consultation and engagement with the local community will happen later this year. Subject to planning permission, the development including step-free access to the District and Circle line, could be complete in 2022.
In January 2018, TfL was granted Listed Building Consent by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, for proposals to upgrade South Kensington station. Designed by architects Weston Williamson, the upgrade work will include rebuilding a new eastbound District and Circle line platform, and expanding the ticket hall and gate line to facilitate quicker, more pleasant journeys for customers using the station. This work is due to start in spring 2018.
Mark Wild, Managing Director of London Underground, said: “South Kensington is a vital station for our customers, providing a link to so many of London’s world-renowned cultural institutions. Upgrading the station will make a massive difference for millions of customers every year. Improving the accessibility of our network is enormously important to both the Mayor and to us, and we are determined to continue to make improvements across London.”
Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum and Co-Chair of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group, said: “Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in the transformation of one of the world’s leading cultural areas. Three-quarters of our Museum’s visitors arrive at South Kensington station, and it is vital that everyone should enjoy a fitting welcome if we are to realise our vision of making the cultural institutions of South Kensington as accessible and inclusive as possible. At the Natural History Museum we have also made this a priority and have recently completed a redevelopment of our own main entrance to allow step-free access - something we are working towards achieving across our site.”
Customers using South Kensington will also benefit from the ongoing transformation of the District and Circle lines, with a new, modern signalling system currently being installed on both lines. The new system will increase train frequency, provide more capacity and make journeys quicker across 40 per cent of the Tube network, benefitting millions of customers.