- detrimental to the local character (6 planning counts);
- unsatisfactory for pedestrians (7 counts);
- too big (5 counts).
1. Public Inquiry - Inspector's Report
2. Camden Council - Camden Town Station Planning Brief
Edit 29/12/12 - Long Branch Mike asks:
Just to give those who don't know some background, there were eight deep tube shelters completed (two others were started), built during the Second World War for the Government, Four, including Camden Town, were handed over to be used by the public because of intensified bombing in 1944.
The description given by Wikipedia of the tunnels is "a pair of parallel tunnels 16 feet 6 inches (5.03 m) in diameter and 1,200 feet (370 m) long. Each tunnel is subdivided into two decks, and each shelter was designed to hold up to 8,000 people". This sounds like a fantastic opportunity to run really long trains, until we remember "Each tunnel is of a diameter much larger than that usually used for running tunnels, but smaller than that used for the platform tunnels, hence they were constructed at the stations that would have been bypassed on the high-speed lines". Forgetting my incredulous look at the possibility of a high speed line bypassing Camden Town, we have something a little narrower than a Northern City Line tunnel. If we take out the bit in the middle for the length of a Northern Line train, do we have a big enough Moscow platform to cater for the number of people? Well, it's possible - I just don't know. The only information I could find was in the Inspector to the Public Inquiry's report: <i> The shelter consists of two long, deep tunnels that run either side of, and parallel to, Camden High Street, joined by cross-tunnels and with a main entrance in Stanmore Place south of Parkway.</i> Also, the only information I could find regarding the relative depth of the deep tunnels to the tube lines was at Belsize Park from Subterranea Britannica: <i>About half way along the full length of the shelter tunnel is another cross passage with a wide stairway leading down to the lower level and up about 20 feet round a right-angle bend to a brick wall - this was the connection through to Belsize Park Station.</i> If this height differential is similar at Camden Town this is not impossible with gradients.
The bigger issue here is the sensitivity of the site. Although there is nothing in the planning brief precluding the use of the deep level shelter as railway tunnels - the Inspector to the Public Inquiry said merely <i>Access to the Deep Level Shelter Tunnels is not a matter for the Inquiry but they are let to a company and are used for storage.</i> Presumably that is why the deep tunnels themselves are not mentioned in the planning brief, but this, by no means, implies that they could be reused. I would suspect that there would be another long dispute if this was proposed, leading to a number of subterranean listings. The fact that the Euston Trust attempted to spot list the Buck Street passages to the tunnel shows the depth of feeling here.
One other point. Although the tunnels are double-decker, the floors between the decks are wooden in structure. I cannot perceive how it would be structurally sound to run all four platforms in the deep level tunnels. We are therefore left with what to do about the 'other' two platforms - leading to a proposal similar to mine, I would suspect. There's also the matter of cost - how far would you have to tunnel to rejoin all the branches?
In conclusion, lovely idea, but I don't think it - quite - works.