Transport for London have finally agreed to a new funding deal with government that includes no mention of a DLR Thamesmead extension nor any Bakerloo line extension via the Old Kent Road to Lewisham.
While the agreement between TfL and the DfT will ensure day to day services keep running there’s no capital expenditure on enhancements that haven’t already been announced.
No DLR extension is hardly a surprise, which also means no chance to build up 20,000 homes in Beckton and Thamesmead.
A number of developments on the Old Kent Road are progressing without any transport improvements, though other major developments are likely to remain on the back burner without Bakerloo line funding.
That also prevents thousands of housing at low rise retail parks in Zone 2.
That follows numerous short-term funding deals which placed long-term plans on ice, leading to the loss of some talented staff at TfL.
Transport for London have been operating on reserves since early August. With that funding only running until early September the organisation have been all but forced to accept.
While there’s zero mention of a DLR Thamesmead extension in the sixteen page letter though there is mention of new stock, with TfL having to sell forthcoming new trains then lease back. It brings in short term cash but this type of deal almost always presents poor value for the taxpayer over the long term.
Many south east London politicians alongside major landowner Peabody have long called for an extension of the DLR from Beckton over to Thamesmead. £1 million was allocated for a study in 2020. The latest proposal would not link up with Abbey Wood station to provide a connection to the Elizabeth line, Southeastern and Thameslink.
Buses are instead expected to transport people to rail stations – much as has been the case for decades.
Peabody have done themselves few favours with a glacial pace of building at numerous plots they already do own in Thamesmead already close to Abbey Wood station.
An extension would see – if built – over 10,000 homes in north Thamesmead with a new town centre. Indicative renders have been drawn up in recent years.
Beyond that Bexley Council have pushed for a route to Belvedere, where they plan 8,000 homes in their Growth Strategy.
The last year has seen a number of substantial planning applications in that area. Last month I covered the latest, which was 563 homes at the former gasholder site.
In 2021 plans for 1,250 homes were submitted.
A list of projects that will continue is included in the letter from Grant Shapps to Sadiq Khan.
The DfT state: “We expect TfL to continue to deliver the committed major projects in its capital programme. These are:
a. Piccadilly Line Upgrade Phase 1 – Trains
b. Four Lines Modernisation
c. Rail System Enhancements for Northern and Jubilee lines
d. Northern Line Extension
e. Silvertown Tunnel
f. Barking Riverside Extension
g. DLR Rolling Stock Replacement Programme
h. Elephant & Castle Station Stage 1
i. Bank Congestion Relief (and necessary associated works)
j. Works to support delivery of HS2
k. The Elizabeth Line
Some of those are already complete.
Other expectations include new bus lanes. The DfT state:
“In accordance with its own Bus Action Plan, TfL will deliver at least 25 lane km of new bus lanes by 2024/5.
It will, by July 2023, complete holistic and granular studies of at least five major bus corridors to ensure that road space is used more efficiently, including but not limited to parking and loading”.
Walking and cycling funding is included:
“We expect TfL to continue to deliver throughout the Funding Period their active travel programme including funding for the London Boroughs under the Local Implementation Plan process.
On average, £80m each year of the amounts in paragraph 15 will be ringfenced over the period of this settlement for active travel, defined as walking and cycling.
Any cycle schemes implemented or supported under this funding shall be fully compliant with LTN 1/20 cycle infrastructure design guidance”.
Boroughs such as Greenwich have been relying on this pot almost alone to fund certain improvements between various major new developments and public transport, shops and amenities. This level of funding will never be enough for what is required and Greenwich require internal reform to pull themselves away from being bottom in London for using developer income via Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy to supplement low levels of TfL funding.
The latest major planning application – this time for 712 homes in Woolwich due to be decided next week – again shows they’re unwilling to do so.
TfL recommended £944,000 be allocated for active travel improvements in Woolwich. Greenwich planners went for £150,000.
In the recent past they’ve ignored a number of calls from organisations to invest in local transport improvements, with notable examples being seen in Thamesmead itself.
One suspects this new funding deal – with low levels of active travel funding – may see some senior Greenwich staff rather happy, as they can again ignore investing in certain areas and claim it’s all down to TfL again even with their low level of funds, and if they havn’t got the money then tough. If TfL had zero available rather than £80m between 32 boroughs, Greenwich wouldn’t have the fall guy they continue to use.
All change – again
Of course this could all be thrown in the air again soon anyway as inflation races up – alongside energy bills. A transport network pays rather a lot for energy.
The economy is also likely to fall into recession – and it could be a heavy and long lasting downturn.
The deal is shorter than TfL wanted, but the way things are going it may not survive for even a limited period of time.