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Sam Richards: Don’t look now

Crossrail will set new standards in urban realm design as well as in civil engineering.

The large scale of its stations across central London will present a massive opportunity to improve London’s public realm on the street-side of the gateline of the ticket halls, says Crossrail’s head of urban integration Sam Richards.

He is responsible for ensuring that Crossrail passengers making onward journeys can find their next mode of transport easily and to that end he is working with Transport for London on the pedestrian links to and from the stations as well as the positioning of bus stops, taxi ranks and cycle spaces.

Furthermore, he is working on how space surrounding the Crossrail stations will complement existing borough masterplans to open-up pedestrian routes in the area.

“We are working closely with the boroughs to fit our designs to their masterplans.”

Sam Richards, Crossrail’s head of urban integration

“We are working closely with the boroughs to fit our designs to their masterplans,” he says. “The Jubilee Line station at Canary Wharf is an example of excellent urban realm. The pedestrian routes from the station entrances are very important.”

Another part of his remit is to ensure that the urban realm for the stations is properly integrated with the over site developments (OSDs) above them.

A key innovation with Crossrail, as opposed to previous big rail infrastructure schemes in London, is that, under the provisions of the Crossrail Act, the planning application for the OSD will have to be submitted within two years of the station starting on site. This has encouraged the designs of the station and OSD to be carried out side by side so that the urban design elements can be better integrated.

Fitting together

To that end, Richards and his team are working with the Crossrail station designers, and the commercial developers of the OSDs to ensure that the urban realm for the two elements fit together. This is a vital part of the strategy because, apart from the station entrances, the OSDs are the main part of the Crossrail schemes in central London that will touch the street level.

“It’s important to get them [the OSDs] right and it is part of how we announce the station,” he says. The urban design work of Richards and his team is being put under the scrutiny of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s (CABE) Crossrail panel.

Special spaces

Paddington Crossrail station

Paddington Crossrail station

Tottenham Court Road

Work on London Underground’s (LU) and Crossrail’s eastern entrances will feed into the remodelling of the Centre Point plaza. Richards is working with urban realm specialist Gillespies, lead architect for the station Hawkins Brown, Westminster City Council and Camden Borough Council on the plaza scheme and improving walking routes to Covent Garden through St Giles Circus. At the top of Dean Street an urban realm scheme will create a suitable space for pedestrians around the western Crossrail entrance.


Richards is working with Thameslink and Islington Borough Council on designing clear pedestrian routes in the area using powers, under the Crossrail Act, to provide pedestrian movement space at the western end of Cowcross Street.

Bond Street

Crossrail is working with Westminster City Council on schemes which will provide a high class pedestrian environment in those areas to the south of Oxford Street where the eastern and western entrances to the stations will be.


Entrances to the Crossrail station will be at the south east of the main railway station on Departures Road where taxis currently pick up. Eastbourne Terrace, at the upper level, will serve as a bus interchange area.

Taxis will be diverted to a new facility on London Street, freeing up Departures Road, which we become a new high quality pedestrian area. There will be more and wider staircases, and a new lift serving Departures Road, Eastbourne Terrace and the new Crossrail station.

Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station

Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station

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