TfL are skint – so why is there STILL no building at Woolwich DLR station?

It’s time for one of my periodic posts asking just why TfL land around and above Woolwich DLR station has not been developed in the 12 years since an agreement to do so.

Since I last covered this, there’s been some changes Firstly, TfL finances are in the toilet and there’s been a clear call to develop land around stations to:

  1. Generate revenue from house sales or provide ongoing rental income for TfL
  2. Provide more passengers for TfL services.

After all, if people move into a homes directly next to a station, there’s a bloody good chance they’ll use those services.

One of a number of empty plots in the heart of Woolwich

Secondly, a TfL finance meeting next week looks at this drive for new homes, yet in Woolwich nothing is happening tpoprovide new homes, and apparently no one can answer why. Questions to TfL and local politicians draw a blank.

Thirdly, some information has trickled out in recent weeks about one tiny area of one plot being used as a temporary space, but no mention of homes or long term commercial space. It’s more to do with temporary, low-rise use and it comprises just one, very small area.

It’s relegated to early plans for changes to Beresford Square market:

Permanent market stalls are one idea
Impact

It’s not just TfL that suffers through loss of income, but Woolwich itself is scarred by a number of empty plots in the middle of town.

TfL plot in Woolwich viewed from Woolwich New Road

Land that can link parts of the town centre are currently ugly, derelict plots consisting of car parks and apparently forgotten spaces.

It’s been like this for 12 years since Woolwich DLR station opened in 2009. The agreement with Oakmayne was signed way back in 2009.

I keep expecting TfL to take down the page, but here it is.

Plans emerged around 2009, never even reached a planning application stage, and then nothing happened since.

A decade old

Much needed homes were never built, and commercial units never appeared. The below model was at just one of three plots:

Instead the stump of a station – always intended to be built above – remains like this:

Woolwich DLR

The other entrance facing Powis Street remains like this:

DLR box. Designed to be built above

In 2009 TfL stated:

Oakmayne never did submit any applications. One possibility is a legal dispute, though why TfL would enter an agreement that didn’t set deadlines for planning application submissions and building work is the big question.

Yet if there are legal issues, how is it TfL are able to offer some land for use as part of potential market changes?

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TfL’s claim in 2009 that ‘this new joint venture will add further impetus by creating much needed sustainable housing stock’ never happened.

DLR sites in blue

Woolwich DLR isn’t the only development site in Woolwich. Another is above the eastern end of Woolwich Elizabeth Line station.

This too has met delays, with agreement to build switching from Grainger to Berkeley Homes. Plans were drawn up in 2014, and work is yet to start – or even be approved – seven years later.

I took at look at plans in September 2020 which you can see here.

Empty land above Crossrail station box

Unlike the DLR site however, there is consultation underway and signs of life over the past seven years – even if we havn’t seen a single brick laid.

For the sake of towns across London and passengers, we have to hope any recent TfL agreement are far more robust in ensuring deadlines are met from developers.

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John 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.

4 thoughts on “TfL are skint – so why is there STILL no building at Woolwich DLR station?

  • June 18, 2021 at 4:24 pm
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    You talk about ‘much needed homes’, but for whom? Certainly not for those who cannot afford to buy or rent at market rates or those on the council waiting list?

    Reply
  • June 19, 2021 at 10:17 am
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    The same problem over at Bermondsey, a lucrative site with huge potential for a tower yet it remains under-utilised.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2021 at 2:19 pm
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    These empty sites have become an eyesore to be honest and are doing nothing to improve the area.

    TFL do need to sell these sites to developers sooner rather than later to help raise some much need revenue to help ease TFL’s serious financial crisis.

    Some build to rent developments at affordable rents for local people would be great on these sites I agree. However, any new developments would provide TFL with extra passengers to use their services again creating muched need fare evenue for TFL. .

    I really hope we see some movement on these sites in the very near future. To be honest I am surprised the Government did not make TFL sell off surplus land to developers as part of their financial bailouts to TFL.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2021 at 7:43 pm
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    It is a pity Greenwicch Council or a Housing Association could not afford to buy the site next to Wioolwich Arsenal DLR Station to build much needed council homes for local residents on the housing waiting list. A mixed use development may also be suitable for this site.

    Reply

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