Underground space group formed in the UK

11 December 2015

GREAT BRITAIN – A new group for the intelligent use of underground space has been formed in London. Billing itself as the ‘Multi-disciplinary Activity Group for the Use of Underground Space’ (Mag2us), it has held two meetings since its formation in September.

Provisional aims of the group, prior to the second meeting, were given as:

  • Creation of a Use of Underground Space Manifesto, for local authority planning departments and other relevant organisations to help them to make informed decisions when dealing with underground space
  • Round table discussions and workshops between disciplines
  • To improve cooperation between disciplines that care about the use of underground space
  • Organising lectures and site visits
  • Stop the 'first come, first served' approach to depleting underground resources
  • Create a three-dimensional spatial planning strategy

To launch the group, members of ITACUS, as well as ITA WG 20: Urban Problems, Underground Solutions, convened in London to speak with representatives of the BTS, BTSYM, ITA, ITAYM, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure, Urben (a London based urban planning and design studio), and the British Geological Survey.

The second meeting was due to occur as Tunnels and Tunnelling went to press, so details are unavailable, although the manifesto (or 'position paper') is expected to be released shortly.

ITAYM vice chair Petr Salak explained the justification for the group: "A lot of parties agreed that Mag2us is needed as disciplines do not talk to each other. As this group involves a lot of different parties, it has the potential to really change how we deal with underground space."

Mag2us will focus on the needs of the UK, providing a bridge that international underground space groups would struggle to cross. It will assist underground planning by showing how things can and should be done, give examples of good practice, and suggest improvements in legislation, as well as lobbying.

To mark the formation of the group, a visit to London Underground's disused Down Street Station was arranged with the support of LUL. Attendees were encouraged to consider the potential uses for existing underground space such as Down Street, which was a useful base of transport operations during the Second World War.