By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter
Residents have hit back at plans to expand a railway station in front of their homes – fearing passengers will peer into their bedroom windows.
People living in Fernbrook Road, Lewisham, fear Network Rail’s plans to modernise Hither Green railway station will leave their properties overlooked.
Under the plans, trees on the railway embankment will be cut down, leaving residents’ homes in full view of one of the station’s platforms.
A footbridge and 18-metre tall lift shaft will be built on top of the verge, while a new station entrance will be added below on Fernbrook Road as part of the proposals.
But residents fear the alterations will encourage antisocial behaviour as people hang around the station late at night. They also worry they will be kept awake by cars idling outside waiting to pick up passengers.
Fernbrook Road resident Sandra has lived on the street with her family for 15 years. The 44 year old, who did not want to give her surname, said: “We will lose the trees and we will just have the length of platform six and the lift shaft. People will be looking into our house from really high up. The living room and my daughter’s bedroom are at the front of the house. We will go from having nature in front of us to a tower.”
Her neighbour, Anna Curran, said she and other residents would lose their privacy. The 59 year old said: “We’re going to have a tower that’s 18 metres tall in front of our front doors. It will be opposite our bedroom windows. The proposals are overbearing and will cause a loss of privacy.”
Ms Curran stressed that she and other residents weren’t against alterations being made to the station to make it more accessible for disabled people. But she added the changes had to work for people living nearby too. She said: “None of us are opposed to changes being made to the station for elderly or disabled people. We understand things have to change but not at the detriment of the road’s residents.”
Residents voiced their concerns about the plans at a virtual meeting with Network Rail on April 20, but felt their views were sidelined after Lewisham council approved the proposals unchanged two days later on April 22.
Network Rail spokesman Chris Denham said: “We’ve been really pleased with people’s responses to our plans to make Hither Green an accessible station.
“It’s a huge, challenging site and we’re confident these changes will make it a much more welcoming space for all passengers, as well as making it much easier to use for people with restricted mobility.
“We’ve already made some changes to our plans following a previous engagement session and we’re looking forward to doing some face-to-face engagement in the area later this year.
“There are some things we can’t change however, including the height of the lift shafts, which are governed by safety standards that allow for people to stand above the lifts to maintain them. In addition, the entrance at Fernbrook Road was recommended to us by the local Design Review Panel as important for accessibility, hence its inclusion.”