Why Barking and Dagenham's tunnel vision could boost property and jobs in east London

Darren Rodwell
A worker is  silhouetted at one of the G
There is light at the end of this tunnel (Source: Getty)

Barking and Dagenham is London’s growth opportunity.

We have enough land in this east London borough to deliver more than 35,000 new homes and 10,000 new jobs over the next 15-20 years, yet we are hampered by a poor transport infrastructure which is not only frustrating us but crippling London as a whole.

One of our key issues, getting agreement for an overground train station to be built at Barking Riverside, has now been resolved. That in itself, will help to unlock 10,800 new homes on a two-kilometre stretch of wasteland along the Thames.

But another significant barrier to growth is the A13 - a road essential to London and the Thames Gateway’s economic success.

By 2036, projections show some 40 per cent of east London’s housing and 60 per cent of jobs growth will be delivered within two miles of the A13 – if the infrastructure is right.

The route provides a direct link from the Thurrock and Essex Ports and the M25 into the City. Over 100,000 vehicles use the road each day. The Lodge Avenue Flyover and Renwick Road Junction cause serious congestion and bottle necks costing businesses millions of pounds every year.

The A13 is also a physical barrier to growth. The surrounding area is severely blighted, with land values the lowest in London hindering investment from developers. The road also physically cuts our borough in two, dividing communities and making travel from north to south of the borough near-on impossible.

With the support of the GLA and Transport for London, Barking and Dagenham Council is calling for a 1.3km stretch of the A13 to be tunnelled. The scheme also has the backing of businesses, developers and a cross-party group of MPs.

The tunnel would act as a catalyst for growth, boosting the local and wider economy by re-zoning industrial land for mixed use development and directly creating at least 5,000 new homes. It would also stimulate the development of a further 30,000 planned new homes in both Barking and Dagenham and neighbouring Havering.

Our vision will see the poor quality environment, left largely untouched since the 1920s, upgraded, with noise and air pollution reduced, new green spaces created and high quality commercial areas sitting alongside the new homes.

The tunnel is estimated to cost £1bn in today’s prices but if stamp duty is devolved it can generate sufficient revenues to pay for itself. Not only that, but projections show our tunnel vision will return £1.85 for every pound spent and generate a net additional GVA of around £800m.

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