Kidbrooke towers rising – Berkeley now building and TfL to join in?
Berkeley Homes’ plan for towers beside Kidbrooke station have recently taken a big step forward. Preparatory ground works have completed in certain places and some structures are now rising above ground. They’re only really visible from the station bridge right now but it wont be long until passengers passing will notice.
It’s a huge site and these towers are part of a contentious plan which will eventually bring 4800 homes to Kidbrooke. A new station and square are part of the plans.
Other big news this week was that TfL, who own land the other side of the station, are pushing ahead with creating an affordable housing block. They submitted an environmental screening option in September 2015 about the possibility of a 20-storey tower. 400 homes are now planned. This is the site:
This is a very welcome move by new Mayor Sadiq Khan. Though it’s still part-buy part-rent, which is a way to give people 25% of a house they would have been able to afford the entirety of 20 years ago before the average-wage to average-house price ratio became ludicrous, it’s still better than what would have been pursued by Boris.
Khan is pushing for 50% ‘affordable’, which is set at a stronger level than under Boris. But is it really affordable to the vast majority of people who don’t have wealthy parents to put up the deposit?
One criticism that has been levelled is that TfL selling the land is a short term decision that inhibits the possibility of long term, stable income from the site. Such direct building and letting is common in some parts of the world, with the income then re-invested into the transport network and funding new stations.
However TfL have barriers to such action as Westminster have made it very difficult for any public body to build and utilise their assets. Centralisation in the UK has prevented local authorities and transport providers, whether local people support it or not.
There is talk of TfL forming a joint company with a developer so it can do so. It will be revealing to see whether this happens. I’d also expect central Government to do all it can to block such a sensible move which secures regular and long term income.
It will want to help the big housing developers, unless the May government changes course from the disastrous Cameron and Osbourne record.
But TfL do have a more pressing problem. George Osbourne announced that it was cutting the entire grant to TfL for operating services. It will go by 2020. It’s pretty much the entire city in the world that has to deal with this, and comes as London’s fares are already way above equivalent major world cities.
But it could be argued that central Government shouldn’t be funding London’s operating costs. Fair enough, but then allow the Mayor more freedom over fiscal policy to raise funds for core services. But Whitehall and the Treasury put regions of England in a straight-jacket and place very heavy limitations on tax and spend.
Whatever happens, expect Kidbrooke to be surrounded by towers in coming years, as it resembles Lewisham a couple of stops further down the line, which will too be surrounded in coming years.