Westminster Labour Councillors and Karen Buck MP are fighting to stop the potential development of a new London coach station at Royal Oak. They have been lobbying TFL that Royal Oak would be an absolutely unacceptable site for a coach station. It would have a damaging impact on local residents in Bayswater, Westbourne and Hyde Park wards in particular with increased congestion on the roads, worsening air quality and with the local infrastructure of this residential area totally unsuited to the number of visitors such a station would bring in.
The current concerns at Royal Oak stem from uncertainty about parts of the current Victoria Coach Station. This is because the land on which Victoria Coach station sits is partially owned by TFL and part-owned by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate. The current challenge has been created due to the expiry of the leases for small sections of the site in 2023, with leases for further parcels of land expiring by 2031 that means Grosvenor may decide that these parts of the site will not be able to be used for the coach station. It does not mean that Victoria Coach station becomes inoperable from 2023 as some reports have suggested, despite what commercial development plans Grosvenor may have for their land.
Coaches are private operators that are not regulated by TFL but until now TFL has operated the Victoria Coach station to provide an organised coach terminus and to prevent a free for all on Westminster and London’s roads. They are looking at ways to continue operating coach stations to manage this issue.
TFL has been in touch with Westminster’s planners to explore how a coach station might work at Royal Oak but TFL has clearly said that Royal Oak is not the only option they are seriously considering and that no decisions have been taken on their future plans.
Westminster Labour is calling for a coherent local and London wide coach strategy that firmly rules out the wildly unsuitable site at Royal Oak, the worst possible option for Westminster.
Stratford, or another well-connected site in East London, should act as the hub for coach services coming in via East London and in particular handling the coaches going to and from Stanstead, and if appropriate, Luton Airports.
Heathrow already has a well-developed coach hub that could expand its capacity. 20% of Coach traffic currently at Victoria involves people interchanging between coaches without setting foot in London. So such journeys should be managed through Heathrow and East London, significantly improving air quality and reducing congestion.
Any approach to delivering a proper London coach strategy must involve removing unnecessary coach journeys from Westminster’s roads. Labour also thinks there is a strong case for Government to give the council and TFL the power to regulate the creation of coach stops to prevent the formation of more unofficial coach stops in unsuitable places on Westminster’s roads.
Westminster Labour Group Leader Councillor Adam Hug said “Labour absolutely supports the Council and TFL working together to find a long-term out of borough alternative to Victoria coach station and deliver an approach that removes unnecessary coach journeys from our roads. We believe the answer lies in transferring as much coach traffic as possible to alternative sites in London, particularly Heathrow and Stratford, which would help dramatically reduce congestion in Westminster and improve our air quality. Under no circumstances however should coach services be moved to Royal Oak and we will continue to fight until that option is taken off the table.”