A major road linking parts of Essex to London could be buried in a tunnel if plans by Barking and Dagenham Council are approved.

The A13 runs through south-Essex, linking towns such as Purfleet and Rainham to London, but the 6-lane road also acts as a significant barrier as it passes through Barking. It’s also a pollution and noise hotspot which affects people living nearby, even though they gain negligible benefit from it.

The area through Barking straddles a mix of light industrial and residential, but is earmarked for a lot more residential developments – not least Barking Riverside, but also Beam Park and areas around Castle Green.

Affected area – map from B&D Council Local Plan 2037

The council’s Local Plan 2037 proposes looking at options to either bury, or cover over the major road into a road tunnel to reduce noise and pollution, and then build housing on top.

That allows them to add more flats on top of the hidden road and improves the environment for those already planned to be built in the area.

The A13 is currently at ground level, so burying it would mean shifting the road into a new tunnel, but as it runs alongside an industrial area set to be redeveloped, it’s not a particularly difficult project to engineer — just a problem to pay for. The funding though could be supported by studies conducted by Arup, Jacobs and Farrells suggests that the project would directly unlock £1.7bn in land value uplift for the wider area.

The council says that the tunnel is also an infrastructure project that can be delivered at relative speed ahead of 2030 and would be constructed under a phased delivery model that minimises disruption in the borough. The total cost of the tunnel plus station being £800 million which would be more than recouped from the development value that would be created. The scheme being able to be delivered within the life of the existing Design Build Operate contract for the road.

Initially, the Borough is seeking £5 million to complete full design work and a detailed business plan.

The plan also expects to use some of the revenue from the extra housing developments to fund an extra railway station on the London Overground extension to Barking Riverside.

London Overground extension (c) TfL

The additional station, provisionally known in the council documents as Castle Green, would sit on Renwick Road where passive provision is already being provided for the station. The additional station is expected to support the release of industrial sites at Creekmouth, Castle Green and Thames Road, to enable the delivery of 11,000 new homes on these sites by 2030.

Indicative plan for additional station (c) TfL

A consultation on the Local Plan is anticipated to start on 5 October 2020 and run for eight weeks until 29 November 2020.


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  1. Tanya says:

    Great idea. I live nearby and burying the A13 would certainly improve things. Worth thinking about how to improve pedestrian access across the railway lines too. Right now there are a couple of unwelcome bridges but improved access would help link the communities together.

  2. MilesT says:

    I wonder if adding a big park and ride car park would also be helpful in diverting traffic closer to London. Could be underground linked to the tunnels or on reclaimed land above shared with housing

  3. JP says:

    Hamburg has just about finished dropping the A7 motorway cutting by 10ft and roofing it over. On top there are parks, much-welcomed rejoined roads (split since the 80s) and provision for a thousand or so homes.
    The traffic jams were horrendous but no pain, no gain.
    The best bit about sitting in a jam in a fume-filled motorway trench was the tunnel address system. A sultry voice admonished someone speeding along the emergency lane in German and French (the no. plates were from France – clever). It was as loud as the voice of God and I’ve never been closer to being in a Bond villain’s lair ~ “six minutes und countink…”

  4. Jimbo says:

    They don’t necessarily need to build a replacement tunnel, just build up the ground level either side and roof it over. You end up with a hump in the area but that isnt a big issue.

    • ianvisits says:

      The problem with covering the road in a box is that you can’t build on top of the cover, as it would need far bigger foundations, which are a large part of the costs, so you might as well tunnel, and any buildings would effectively start 3 stories above ground level, limiting how tall they can be – hence how much revenue you could raise to cover the costs.

  5. Lee says:

    If the plan is to move the road, rather than going to the expense of burying it – why not just move it to parallel the railway to the south, on the edge of the proposed development area. Would that not be cheaper and easier?

    A shorter link (or links) could then be provided from new junction(s) to connect with the new development and a significantly downgraded ripple road?

    • ianvisits says:

      Moving the road is the result of burying it – not the reason for burying it.

      The reason for burying it is to contain the noise and pollution so that they don’t affect the people living near the road.

  6. A Thacker says:

    Pollution is THE problem! Stationary traffic every workday morning caused by the Renwick Rd traffic lights for up to 2hrs blights the area. A major school is almost adjacent to this.
    Residents in the surrounding area are (literally) sick of this. Life expectancy is reduced (fact)!
    This is the reason for a tunnel, by keeping traffic moving, pollution is greatly reduced.
    Unlocking the land area for homes (20,000) is mooted and is part of the boroughs aims for at least 50,000 in total!
    You do the maths, it’s a no brainier.

  7. G Cogman says:

    I think that it is a stupid idea too much building going on in barking already. More and more people coming into the area. No young people here can afford to buy or rent. There are no extra hospital beds doctors or dentist schools already full. We have no more room for more people

  8. Pete D says:

    It’s been done in the UK before. The A1 was put in a tunnel in Hatfield and a massive shopping centre was built on top.

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