Good Growth: Barking Riverside

Source: RTM Feb/March 2019

Lucinda Turner, Transport for London’s (TfL) director of spatial planning, argues that transport investment is the key to unlock good growth in a city.

Despite recent economic shocks, London’s population continues to grow. By 2041, the city’s population is expected to grow to over 10 million. Growth can be good for London, but it is important that all of the city’s residents feel its benefits. As the city grows, it must also become a better place to live and work – London’s growth must be ‘Good Growth.’

Transport plays a fundamental role in facilitating growth and provides an opportunity to shape London into a city that works better. Using public transport links and creating better walking and cycling environments to help areas develop will support a future of reduced car dependency and increased active travel.

Development on brownfield land is important if the capital is to keep pace with a growing population. Of course, brownfield sites come with their own challenges: some of these areas are currently not very well connected and may be some distance away from local stations or bus routes, and streets can feel less than welcoming. There are also significant upfront costs, including making contaminated ground safe and ready for use, which needs to be paid before developers can focus on new and enhanced streets, schools, shops, and open spaces to make attractive places for future residents.

It’s vital that all those involved work together to tackle the challenges and plan in a proactive and integrated way to make the most of the opportunities. The Barking Riverside development in east London is delivering up to 10,800 homes on the 443-acre site that was formerly home to three electricity power stations. Half of these homes will be affordable and a new riverside community will be created, making it one of the largest regeneration projects in the UK.

But it’s been challenging: the costs, coupled with the lack of accessible transport options and low land values, can reduce the viability of developments of this type. At Barking Riverside, just 700 homes had been built by 2016 – the site was only truly unlocked once there was commitment to a new transport link.

Getting the transport provision right from the start is vital. The planning process for Barking Riverside began over a decade ago, and it was apparent even then that improved transport connections were going to be a major contributing factor to the success of this ambitious project.

Early engagement and close collaborative working is essential to the success of projects like this, with TfL working closely on Barking Riverside with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and Barking Riverside Ltd to help deliver the masterplan for the area.

We carefully considered and consulted on a number of options, including extending the Docklands Light Railway from Gallions Reach, before a Transport Works Act Order was submitted for an extension to the existing Gospel Oak to Barking line into the development.

This 4.5km new service will include 1.5km of new viaduct that will run from the existing Tilbury Loop line, between Barking and Dagenham Docks, to a new station at the heart of Barking Riverside, which will include provision of full step-free access, with a four trains per hour service expected to operate from 2021. The plans have also future-proofed provision for an intermediate station at Renwick Road, called Castle Green station, the actual delivery of which would be subject to a suitable business case and funding package.

The main construction of the Barking Riverside Extension will be carried out as joint venture between Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure and VolkerFitzpatrick (MSVF), and work began in February 2019. MSVF will be one of many contractors collaborating on the delivery of this site – one of Europe’s largest brownfield developments.

By delivering public transport that not only unlocks new areas for housing, but also helps support the city’s wider ambitions of cleaner air and fewer car journeys, we’re confident we can help make Barking Riverside and other Opportunity Areas vibrant new parts of London.


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