Lewisham Council have written to the Arch Company who purchased spaces under railway lines after businesses complained of “facing huge rent rises”.
Network Rail were forced to sell arches across the country by the Conservative Government in 2018. The scheme was later heavily criticised by the Public Accounts Committee.
The National Audit Office has also criticised the scheme. It’s claimed in this Guardian article that: “The National Audit Office (NAO) also found that the rent charged for 5,261 properties sold to Telereal Trillium and Blackstone Property Partners could increase by 54% over the next three to four years.”
Deeply concerned to hear from independent small businesses in #Deptford whose futures are under threat due to extortionate rent rises of well over 100%.@damienegan, @vickyfoxcroft and I have written to the landlord – @thearchcompany – to call on them to think again. pic.twitter.com/9b1tSEIwZj
— Joe Dromey (@Joe_Dromey) February 12, 2020
Selling arches also threatens future engineering work and rail upgrades with added expense and an even more protracted system.
The sale produced one-off income for Network Rail but lost the scope for decades of future revenue to support the rail network. In many nations, rail networks are supported by income from business operating from land around and below lines and housing development around stations. This helps cross-subsidise operations plus provides a larger customer base for rail services.
Network Rail had themselves come in for criticism in places for increasing rents before the sale, though there is speculation that occurred to gain a higher sale price.
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