TfL revealed last year they were looking to raise money through housing at sites around stations. I covered the plans here and showed that TfL were considering a tower up to 20 storeys in height.
Today more details of the scheme has been released. It’s a partnership with U&I (formally Cathedral group) and Notting Hill Housing Association with 400 homes planned – more than the 320 proposed last year.
Let’s hope this scheme is more successful than TfL’s last attempt at a “partnership” in south east London. Almost eight years ago they signed an agreement with Oakmayne which covered three sites in central Woolwich above and around DLR sites.
These plots havn’t seen a single spade hit the ground in all that time despite housing need and being a crucial link between “new” Woolwich at the Arsenal and those areas to the south.
This was a big failure by TfL. Greenwich Council have been smarter with their Spray Street plans immediately to the north. If private developers do not commence work within three years planning is revoked. Why TfL have allowed landbanking despite a housing crisis is a mystery.
The Kidbrooke plans are directly beside the station and an ideal spot for high density. The buildings are centred around a new bus station area, as seen in this close up:
Berkeley’s towers over the other side of the station are outlined. These are now rising. It’s a big increase in homes directly around Kidbrooke station, which has already seen double digit growth every year recently. Station usage grew from 900k in 2011/12 to 1.6 million in 2015/16.
Government minister Sajid Javid was recently filmed at the station proclaiming Berkeley’s development as the way forward. This came days after his colleague, the transport secretary Chris Grayling, had blocked a TfL takeover of the line and then blocked more trains for Southeastern.
Just today, evening rush hour trains along the Kidbrooke line were just four carriages due to train faults, but even the standard scheduled length in just six on some services. Crossrail does nothing to help this, as the Kidrooke line isn’t served by Crossrail at Abbey Wood and Woolwich. And people further down the line at places like Welling are unlikely to take a bus to Abbey Wood Crossrail to free up space, given it’s slow and crucially the road that links them is the narrow Knee Hill which cannot take double deckers, and runs through ancient woodland so widening isn’t likely any time soon.
Mayor Sadiq Khan came in for criticism for selling off land cheaper than the market rate to ensure more affordable housing. The level set is 50% here. What would occur in many developed nations is that the transport authority would build directly (financed at 400 year low borrowing rates) then sell some on the market whilst renting others out to ensure long term income. This is then used to improve services and keep fares down.
Nothing so sensible can happen in London as central Government blocks direct building from transport providers, and in this case even allowing the city authorities and elected politicians to operate local rail services. It’s another instance of Whitehall and centralisation hampering local services.