Rail heading for big declines? Well, new home building around rail stations continues apace

The pandemic has brought about many predictions of forever changed working and travel patterns – often from people comfortable enough to live in a sizable home where it’s a desirable thing to do.

But let’s assume for now that the majority of people working in offices do switch to home working for most of the week, will rail travel in urban areas see a steep decline over the next few years?

In terms of peak time commuting that may well be so, but it could be somewhat mitigated by an increase in off-peak travel.  There’s no shortage of homes rising around stations right  now across south east London at least. And most are car-free.

Work commenced December 2020

In recent months alone this site has covered work beginning in December on a 22-storey tower near Abbey Wood station, while work is finally nearing completion on the first homes at Thamesmead’s new homes.

First blocks now completing in Thamesmead

Plumstead has seen 1,750 new homes approved at the end of 2020. This is a joint Peabody/Berkeley Homes development.

1.750 homes near Plumstead station

Woolwich continues to see many plans approved and proposed. In recent months the 22-floor Mast Quay tower has begun to appear near Woolwich ferry.

Mast Quay phase 3 now rising

Woolwich Exchange is up for approval soon. Three large blocks will also complete on the Arsenal site in the next year. Two towers by the river:

New Woolwich towers. Taken April 2020

And another block somewhat hidden from surrounding streets:

Block in Arsenal site

I’m generally not including plans yet to be approved as if I did we’d be here all day. There’s thousands more homes on the drawing board in Woolwich alone.

Further west and work is now underway to demolish Morris Walk estate. An extra 8,000 homes are lined up in Charlton. Granted, many are some way off.

One site in Charlton which isn’t is Victoria Way, with 330 homes now approaching completion.

Victoria Way approaching completion

Various plots on Greenwich Millennium Village are continuing. Links to Westcombe Park station – close as the crow flies – are so poor I’m not sure many will bother with it. The tube despite being further is more likely to appeal.

Lewisham also sees thousands of homes now underway. There’s 443 homes at an estate rebuild now rising with the first couple of floors popping up in recent weeks:

Overview of estate redevelopment

Then there’s Lewisham Central’s next phase which has now reached floor number four:

Building work now underway

And then there is this 27-floor tower beside the station which has topped out:

The vast majority of these developments have minimal parking and in close proximity to rail and DLR stations.

If we head to Kidbrooke work continues apace at two site – Berkeley Homes’ Kidbrooke Village with more towers now rising, and over the tracks work well underway at TfL’s plot:

Overview of Kidbrooke

There’s many more plans I could cover (Erith for example is set to see another 249 homes approved next week with many lacking any parking space – post coming soon) and the general point remains – many, many major developments are now well underway and this will see additional patronage of rail.

The danger is the Treasury enacts swinging cuts in coming months and years just as demand picks up – thereby chocking a recovery at source. Peak time could well take a long time to recover (though perhaps not as long as some claim) but taking an axe to off-peak travel would be a big own goal.

Not just for preventing congestion increases for those who have the option to drive, but for offering sustainable travel to people moving to new homes.







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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

11 thoughts on “Rail heading for big declines? Well, new home building around rail stations continues apace

  • Where are all these people coming from Murky to fill these massive high rises? And how will this huge influx be balanced with community facilities in general, not just transport options? Medical facilities, playgrounds, youth clubs, trees and open spaces (instead of construction sites like Silvertown with its fledging saplings replanted for zero carbon models.
    Already Greenwich Park is these days chock a block with people and litter and uncollected poo (not just dogs even), even before both tourists and summer return! Are there no other towns/cities/villages for people to move to in the UK? What do most locals feel about this huge increase in local population, surely the whole UK population isn’t increasing this fast? Do the local people even get a say, when it isn’t ‘politically correct’ to criticise more housing, even though it’s not mostly ‘housing’ but ‘apartmenting’! And even though it’s likely the truly ‘needy’ cannot afford any of these themselves without big Govt benefits/subsidies, and many new purchasers do not necessarily want the % of ‘needy’ individuals who can introduce the local violence and drug abuse we are already sadly seeing more of in RBG. It does concern me. I know there’s a housing ‘crisis’, there always has been, certainly since i was a kid in the 60’s sharing a one bed flat with a family of 5 on Westcombe Hill, before they demolished it for a blighted new road to the tunnel for more cars, and packed us off to ‘sunny’ Mottingham for a new build 3 bed council house. The Greenwich I grew up in and loved and came back to work in for decades and now both live and work in, seems destined to massive overpopulation, whether current residents and workers like it or not?

  • Rail use may well be in permanent decline, but the government won’t have the nerve to cancel HS2. As for all the new developments, there will be buyers, but a lot of them will be mostly empty and become the slums of the future.

  • People are leaving London, so I don’t know who will be living here, travel patterns will change, even if more people will stay, working from home is here to stay even if it’s 2/3 days a week and I’m not sure people will want to work from home in a high rise or concrete jungle, one of the things people complained about in all the lockdowns was the lack of green and open spaces for those who don’t live nearby a park.

    Moving further out will be the pattern

    • I doubt it mid term. Masses of overseas students will flood back. UK actively encouraging those in Hong Kong. The appeal of London to the young both domestically and overseas is going nowhere. It will increase if anything as rents reduce.

      Concrete jungle is a silly term. Perfectly fine to live here in high rise particularly if young. In Lewisahm there’s shops, bars etc on the doorstep alongside transport taking them to numerous places in 10-20 mins. It’s 5 mins on DLR to Greenwich. There’s the park in Lewisham 2 mins walk away. New development bringing a cinema and cafes and spaces around Ravensbourne.

      In Abbey Wood there’s the woods and Lesnes 5 mins walk away. Crossrail will take people across London in no time. In Woolwich its the same and there’s Maribor park. Kidbrooke has Cator Park etc on the doorstep. All have seen millions in the past 5 years on open space.

      Given developers havn’t stopped building tells us something.

      People getting to certain times in life may want to move out but it was ever thus.

  • It might be a silly term but London is increasingly becoming a concrete jungle high rise, no real homes for families and not many affordable homes, not to mention expensive travel, And expensive to socialise in, London is increasingly becoming a city for the rich and wealthy where they can play and a hell hole for the poor who live in house-shares, the crime isn’t exactly a good factor for staying either.

    Covid has made a lot of people think about their situation, working from home for starters won’t go away and will be here to stay in some form, I know of plenty of people who have decided during lockdown to leave London because they want to buy a home, sans a better quality of life, something which quite frankly you can’t get in a high rise

  • Also need to add that it’s not just young people we need to think about, students come and go, overseas students invariably go back to their home countries, these are short term people who may stay in London for a few years, I can’t see rents lowering in London anytime soon

  • What absolute rubbish, you have no evidence that these apartments are ‘slums of the future’ its just hyperbole and sensationalism. These apartments are selling, people are living in them and developments in SE London are hardly empty. The myth of the empty houses for foreigners is completely overblown and disproven time and time again.

  • This has always happened in London, people get older and move out. Thats City life across the globe. London is also one of the greenest cities in the world in terms of parks and trees, it just sounds like the city has used you up like it does to lots of people. And millions of people around the world have a great quality of life in a high rise, whats the betting you’ve never lived in one.

  • Did I say slums? Point where I stated the high rises were slums? Please wind your neck in before you get offended at something I never said

  • London is also one of the most expensive cities in the world, and coming off the pandemic has made people think their future, it has nothing to do with whether I have lived in a high rise or not but don’t pretend London is some utopia you are sadly deluding yourself if you believe otherwise

  • @Adam, fhe Grenfell Tower fire has exposed dangerous practices and poor building standards – lack of fire prevention, poor or non-existent insulation, inadequate drainage, badly fitted windows, thin rendering etc. All of those defects are contributing factors to a decline into slums.

    I am so glad that I never fell for the weasel words of the slick marketing guff and live in a home that wasn’t thrown up to make quick profits.


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