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Keeping South Eastern Railway building 'would be terrorism risk'

The historic South Eastern Railway building in Tooley Street should be demolished to prevent potential car bombers getting too close to the rebuilt London Bridge Station, Network Rail has told English Heritage.

Keeping South Eastern Railway building 'would be terrorism risk'
Keeping South Eastern Railway building 'would be terrorism risk'
Network Rail says it believes that a wider pavement outside the station will provide better protection from suicide bombers and other hostile vehicles

Network Rail, through its planning consultants CgMs, has written to English Heritage to explain why it believes that the demolition of the South Eastern Railway building (whose tenants include Winston Churchill's Britain at War Experience and the Tuli restaurant) is an essential prerequisite of its plans to redevelop London Bridge Station.

Bermondsey Village Action Group, the Victorian Society, SAVE Britain's Heritage and other campaign groups have all lobbied for the retention of the attractive but unlisted building which dates from 1897-1900 and was designed by Charles Barry Junior, son of the architect of the Palace of Westminster.

The rail firm claims that its proposal to demolish the building and create a wider pavement in front of the Tooley Street entrance to the station's new ground-level concourse is essential to stop car bombers from getting too close to the station.

"Stand-off distance (the distance between the bomb and the building) is a fundamental parameter when determining the blast pressures experienced by a building," writes CgMs director Edward Kitchen.

"Blast loading reduces substantially with distance, with an ideal stand-off of 30 metres for small cars."

The letter continues: "The identification and mitigation of terrorist threats is not an exact science but one which requires all those involved in the planning process to make reasonable efforts to manage risk.

"We believe the reduction in blast stand-off which would necessarily result from the retention of 64-84 Tooley Street would result in a materially different environment, such that the public benefit of a secure station would not be delivered to a similar extent through an alternative design proposal."

English Heritage has also received a letter from Peter Guy, Network Rail's head of operational security and continunity planning, who confirms that "demolition of 84 Tooley Street offers the better solution to safety and security issues in this area of the station".

Network Rail's letter comes soon after the Bermondsey Village Action Group has launched a new petition calling on Southwark Council and the Mayor of London to reject proposals for the demolition of both the South Eastern Railway building and the 'trainshed' roof and wall of the terminating platforms on the St Thomas Street side of the station.

The petition urges Network Rail to incorporate the historic structures into its plans for the redevelopment of the station.

Plans for the redevelopment of the station are due to be considered by Southwark Council's planning committee on 20 December.

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