Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12500 - 12519)

  12500. CHAIRMAN: We cannot do that. It has been given a Second Reading.

   (Mr Winbourne) I would be recommending to Parliament, if I were allowed to, to reject the Bill altogether. I hope that is fair. If it is possible for Parliament to think again, I would wish it to think again for good reasons and I hope to demonstrate those good reasons respectfully. I would like to return to the item that I started with, which is the picture of the building because I think everything depends locally on this and I stress locally. I have already explained the size and nature of the tunnels. If you look at the page which is headed 632, which is the third or fourth page of this thing, the one which shows the entrances going across the basement yard—

  12501. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: It is the one with the pram in the photograph, is it?

   (Mr Winbourne) Yes. Thank you. The outer walls of the building originally are approximately where you see the retaining wall on the right-hand side of the upper right picture. They have taken away part of the building, which is the basements and there are vaults under the pavement as well now. So people like Mr Payne who have a basement or what an estate agent would call a lower ground flat have that walkway or yard or whatever you want to call it between themselves and the road. That used to be part of the building. Taking away that part of the structure weakens the structure in some ways. Equally, what else have they done? They have taken Georgian houses which are vertically divided properly, which carried a certain amount of loading on their floors and that were built as townhouses for people of wealth in 1830. They were converted into a very large number of flats, they were a bilateral conversion, according to this 1953 article and I stress that because it is important, it is nearly 60 years ago. Since that time the weight of stuff in buildings has virtually doubled because of modern kitchens, bathrooms and fitted furniture. Instead of having the servants with next to nothing on the top floors and down in the basement or wherever it was, what you have is very intensively used buildings such as we all might live in if we can afford them and so on and so forth and they are very, very heavily loaded, much more heavily loaded than they might have expected in 1953 when they converted it very, very well for the Church Commissioners for what I believe was then some of their social housing originally. You have got vertical houses with flats, some of which cut across. You have got basements taken away. We should not be looking at a little black bit in the middle of the plan, we should be looking at everything to do with the entire block right up to the curtilage because that is what is constituting the Grade II listed building, not Mr Payne's flat nor just the block that they choose to show on their minimizing drawing of the black core part. If you take away structures right at the front and put staircases across, that means—and you are on Georgian footings—it is much more vulnerable from anything pushing from underneath than it would have been if it had been left alone in the first place. It is simple, basic surveying stuff is what I am saying. I am not a structural engineer but I have done enough building surveys in my time to know that this matters. I have also encountered on the Jubilee Line very serious settlement cracks which Crossrail choose to dismiss. I had a very serious case referred to me which never got finished in the courts, but I have a pile of papers this high where property was damaged on the Jubilee Line and the livelihood of those in there was ruined and it was due to the tunnel and it is a much smaller tunnel. The Jubilee Line tunnel has a cross-section area of only 20 square metres and that is without the compensation grouting around, which in their case is about a three metre band. In this case we have a bore face or cross-sectional area of 50 square metres and on everything else it is similar. We have 12 coach-size trains going down these tunnels, that is the same size as on the Thameslink Line. There is only one station built which is similar to the stations that will be on this route and that is the new St Pancras International Station of the Thameslink Line where they built a concrete box and then put the trains in afterwards. It was a much simpler engineering exercise than this one by far. On the Jubilee Line there is nothing comparable except for the fact that there is one shaft, but that it is not a shaft, it is an emergency intervention point. I strongly recommend that this Select Committee goes and has a look. It is at Southwark, at a place called Warden's Grove and this is where I dealt with this case that was referred to me to see whether we could do anything more about the compensation.

  12502. CHAIRMAN: Is this in Bermondsey?

   (Mr Winbourne) Yes. It is the only example in London of an emergency intervention point and it is on a smaller Tube line, as I have just explained. It is far smaller, it is half the size in length straightaway because you have got a seven or eight coach Tube train, you have not got a 12 coach full-size train going there. What it is is a permanently dimly lit island platform with two lines either side and an entry shaft and all you can see on the outside in an arch in Warden's Grove is that it is the London Fire and Emergency Authority's access and it is private, there is a sign on there. That is the only indication that it is there from the outside because it is in a railway arch. That caused havoc to an adjoining property that I personally dealt with and I had a series of files on that. I am speaking directly from practical experience of a very similar situation because I would direct your attention again to that picture. You will see how the line of—

  12503. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: Is that a listed property?

   (Mr Winbourne) No. It was a very ordinary industrial property used as a recording studio which was ruined and a paltry amount of compensation was paid because of the state of the law in this matter which I will come to later. Now, if I can return, please, to the matters which are on the drawings here—by the way, if I speak tersely, my Lords, it is not tersely to you; it is tersely because of the scheme. I hope that will be understood.

  12504. Mr Winbourne, could we go through this in the order that—

   (Mr Winbourne) I will try to do that but I wanted to set the scene as to what I was talking about. On your tab 10, JPA 10, I am not happy with the drawings that have been put in, which is the next series of drawings, because when you see a scale it is rare and it is very difficult to measure anything. Crossrail have had 19 years to deal with this—19 years to deal with this—and they have not produced (and this is Mott McDonald who I know can do better; they are eminent engineers in the business and I am perfectly certain they can do better) proper measured drawings scaled out correctly as they should. These are not. My Lord Chairman, these would not pass muster in an ordinary county court, in my opinion. Solicitors would ask for further and better plans, and they would get them.

  12505. CHAIRMAN: I dare say they would, but so what?
  (Mr Winbourne) So what? I think they are misleading—seriously misleading—and I propose to show you why. They go to a conclusion that there is "negligible" or "nothing", but how do they get to their conclusion? If I look at the plan which is the one headed "Section AA Details", that is that one like that.[22] Perhaps we could have it up. I am pleased we have the coloured version. First of all, I would make a point about the building not just being the black bit but being the whole block going to the entire curtilage. As you can see, if you look at the building in the entire curtilage, both tunnels, as shown there, touch the building in terms of vertical property ownership, if I can put it that way, before we get on to structural touching. I have already explained how the tunnels are minimised. In this case I have managed to measure, because at least there is a scale on this sectional plan, and according to that scale I find it showing the tunnel as being about seven metres. That is all. In other words, it is minimising the tunnel from the plan point of view. The tunnel is, in any event, even minimised. Both tunnels are under the building, which in my view does not stand a chance. Furthermore, there are no scale drawings of the top. In the top section, as you can see, Section AA Details, they say there is Made Ground and Terrace Gravel, on the left-hand side. They do not say how much or what. They have had ample time to do test-bores, and so forth, and I know that TerraQuest have been all round doing that sort of thing all over the place, with notifications to everybody in London. So they must have done test-bores and yet we are not told what the Made Ground Terrace Gravel is. It could be important here. We talk about the integrity of the London Clay. Then, my Lord, I can tell you that I have carefully made a little measurement using a post-it note and a marker of their measurements on the plan, and to my surprise I find that the bottom measurement, which says 29 metres, turns out to be, give or take, the same length as the one called 26.6 and the one called 26.9 vertically above. There is no difference. This is purely a line drawing which is indicative. Even the 20 metres. I would invite any person—this is almost third-form stuff at school—to check that themselves, with respect to your Lordships, please. So I am saying that here is a drawing which is unreliable, on which a conclusion is based. If the drawing is unreliable the conclusion, therefore, must be unreliable. I am simply saying, why on earth have Mott McDonald—who must know perfectly well what they are doing—not produced a proper scaled drawing, scaled plan, every time, with a proper scale on it?

  12506. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: Is it not really not whether the scale is accurate but we are back to metres.

   (Mr Winbourne) Yes, but I do not trust it.

  12507. On what basis do you say that the metreage from the basement of Stanhope Place down to the crown of the tunnel is 14 metres?

   (Mr Winbourne) Because, as I have explained, the tunnel is not seven metres across, which is what those circles show. Effectively, the structure is 18 metres—it is much bigger.

  12508. Have you asked the Promoters what their precise figure is for the depth from the basement of the property to the crown of the tunnel?

   (Mr Winbourne) Yes, and no, my Lord. Can I explain? I went all through this, I thought, reasonably well, not perhaps as vehemently—more politely—in the House of Commons Select Committee. Mr Mould was there then. Although he interrupted a couple of times when I was giving evidence at various points, as barristers sometimes do, he did not cross-examine me. Therefore, as far as the Commons Select Committee is concerned, if it is like an English court, my evidence-in-chief stood. I am simply saying this evidence has been known, except that I am going further today, my Lord.

  12509. So the Commons accepted, then, it was 14 metres?

   (Mr Winbourne) I was not cross-examined, my Lord. It was my evidence-in-chief.

  12510. MR MOULD: My Lord, if I may say so, it may help the Committee to know that Mr Winbourne, in the Commons, covered a very wide range of topics. It is fair to say that the burden of his argument was to do with the availability of preferable alternative routes. Whilst he touched on a number of matters which are more local to Mr Payne's property, they were very much subsidiary to the main thrust of his case. It is fair to say that the Commons made no findings about factual matters but made no recommendations in Mr Payne's favour in their Special Report.

  12511. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr Mould.

   (Mr Winbourne) Perhaps Mr Payne can deal with this. This is for him, not for me.

  12512. MR PAYNE: Absolutely. On the floating slab track issue, to save time I will dispense with the definitions—I am sure the Committee is well accustomed to the term "floating slab track". Suffice it to say it is inexcusable to use anything other than the best construction practice when designing the underground sections of the railway. The buildings and people living above are not protected by normal planning regulations. The human cost effect of building the track support to a lesser specification will be permanent, not temporary. There are two main issues here: one, the design should be better than 35 decibels, and, two, my building satisfies the criteria as per the 15-metre rule which was brought in by the House of Commons.

  12513. CHAIRMAN: Mr Payne, as you are on your feet, and I have looked at your Petition again, it does not make it very clear what it is you want us to do.

  12514. MR PAYNE: I am trying to explain that now, my Lord, if I may.

  12515. CHAIRMAN: I think it would be a good thing if you did, because perhaps we can concentrate on that.

  12516. MR PAYNE: There is a thread going through here concerning the floating slab track in the design specifications. Can I proceed?

  12517. CHAIRMAN: Yes.

  12518. MR PAYNE: Can I deal with the two issues here? The first issue is that the design should be better than 35 decibels, and here I have a report from an eminent person, and I do not see a great deal of difference between the requirements for recording studios and my situation. I am from a special building; I live and work on the lower ground floor and I need my sleep. A recent report by the scientists, which is on the screen now (it is exhibit JP1 in the folder) from Imperial College London, and other European institutions, including a Dr Lars Jarup, has found that volunteers' blood pressure increased noticeably after they experienced a noise event and noise louder than 35 decibels.[23] This effect could be seen even if the volunteer remained asleep and so was not consciously disturbed.

  12519. The Promoters are, therefore, building something which is potentially dangerous to health. This is unnecessary, particularly in the scope of things when the marginal monetary costs of floating slab track, or better, over and above what they are designing anyway, is punitive. Currently, floating slab track will be utilised on a stop-start basis. Surely a cost-saving could be made being continuous, therefore saving on joints. This is a fraction of the cost already racked up by the Crossrail team, including salaries. The technology is available; why do they not use it? Am I correct in interpreting that? What Crossrail are saying with their design standards is that it is unfortunate that our health is possibly going to suffer due to their proposed scheme. Are they so correct in their allowances for error? Do they include for such things as inclines, bends and braking? There is no possibility to carry out noise-mitigating measures after the Bill, as you can do for motorways and airports, for example, by providing hedges, fencing and double-glazing.

22   Committee Ref: A67, 25-28 Hyde Park Gardens (including 22 Stanhope Terrace), Section A-A Details (SCN-20080507-017 and -018) Back

23   Committee Ref: A67, Aircraft noise raises blood pressure even whilst people are sleeping, says study, Imperial College London,, 13 February 2008 (SCN-20080507-019 to -021) Back

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