Latest Rail News

15.10.15

TfL’s novel development of London property needs ‘careful watching’

The chair of London Assembly’s Budget & Performance Committee has told PSE that Transport for London’s (TfL’s) novel plans to raise more than a billion pounds by developing its property portfolio more commercially need to be watched carefully. 

Speaking after a Committee meeting where Assembly members questioned senior TfL representatives, John Biggs AM said that it was early days in the process, but noted just how many projects TfL is working on. 

TfL, one of London’s largest landowners, revealed its plans in February to work with property companies to develop about 50 sites over the next decade. 

By June, after launching a tender process, TfL had narrowed the list of potential development partners down to 16, with those successful expected to be appointed by the end of the year. 

Asked whether the project could deliver the profits forecast, Biggs said: “The London property market is so ‘hot’ that if they take forward a number of their bigger schemes then the amount that will be generated through disposals and the growing income will be in the hundreds of millions. We’ll keep a close watching brief on it.” 

The initiative’s very novel approach meant it had some inherent risk, he added. 

TfL’s potential development sites are spread across the capital, though two-thirds are in central London (zones 1 and 2). Previously TfL sold assets and properties it no longer needed, but in recent years it has taken a new approach to retain and invest in a number of sites to generate long-term revenue. 

As part of its new commercial development property strategy, TfL set up a non-executive Commercial Development Advisory Group to provide specialist support. This is chaired by Francis Salway, the former CEO of Land Securities. 

Biggs, who was elected the mayor of Tower Hamlets earlier this year, said the work of the new advisory group was a focus of the questioning by Assembly members of Salway and Tfl’s commercial director, Graeme Craig, during the Committee meeting. 

Biggs said he was keen to learn more about that relationship. “It is clear they [TfL] are paying for advice from four advisors who have development expertise and can help them to understand the questions, which as a non-commercial organisation historically, they might not understand themselves.” 

Public sector organisations aren’t always well-known for their commercial awareness, Biggs suggested. 

Asked how quickly the work may progress, Biggs said: “Every individual project needs a lot of hand-holding and stewardship. I’ve been around long enough to know that a high-level proposal and turning that into planning permission, then a development and getting finance in place, can take a matter of years. 

“It does look like a promising start in terms of them doing what they want to do. And it looks as if they are fairly thoughtful about how they protect their transport interests as well.” 

Overall, Biggs said he was excited by how innovative TfL was being.

Comments

Joel   26/10/2015 at 13:58

It's vital to separate out TfL's lands left over from past projects and those needed for works and projects to come. Most mass media reports just quote a total TfL 'land bank' without this understanding. Part of the 'land-bank' is because private bus operators can't raise fund for big garages, so TfL has sites for those - except local authorities have different ideas. Sites are needed for rail depots and works, sub-stations, access routes as well as bus-related uses, all under one ownership, which is how integrated transport should be. Look at 'Delta' (combined bus and train depot) in Brussels for how this can work magnificently.

Add your comment

 

related

Rail industry Focus

  • 11/09/2019The next generation of rail infrastructure

    How the rail industry delivers the next generation of complex infrastructure will rely heavily on the people tasked with leading the projects, and the technology they use to do it. Faithful+Gould...
  • 11/09/2019Putting passengers first

    How does the rail industry design the railways for the next 40 years, and when it does, how do we make sure it’s all done with the passenger in mind? Jane Fisher joined three members of the Arup team...
View all News

Comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

17/09/2019Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

Continuing our mission to connect buyers with suppliers, This year TransCityRail North is adding a new element to the event. We are introducing an incomparable opportunity for you to meet with over 11 procurement directors from Network Rail... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

Interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

24/06/2019Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

Ahead of his appearance, Malcolm Holmes spoke with Rail Technology Magazine about what key leaders in the industry were doing to improve rail in the Midlands. He said: “It’s very... more >