Plans for a new railway station in East London next to a future housing development have been dealt a blow after the station was apparently cancelled.

The site, Beam Park is the former Ford manufacturing plant in Dagenham, now owned by the GLA, and in 2019 received consents for a 3,000 home development by L&Q and Countryside, with around half classed as “affordable”. As part of the agreement, a new railway station was to be built next to the site on the existing C2C railway line, roughly half way between Dagenham Dock and Rainham.

Beam Park site plan

The station is needed as the area chosen for the housing development currently has the lowest Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL) rating of 0 which represents very poor links to public transport. The provision of a new railway station together with improvements to the bus network was expected to increase the PTAL rating to 3 which represents moderate public transport links.

The planning application for the Beam Park housing development also includes a “Grampian condition”, where later phases of the housing development cannot start until the railway station is operating. Due to that clause, until the station opens, the planning application effectively limits the development to around 1,290 homes, less than half the 3,000 homes being planned for.

Cumulatively, delivery of the station had also been expected to unlock housing sites with the capacity to deliver between 4,000 and 6,000 additional homes on the former Somerfield development site, and other adjacent sites situated within the Housing Zone.

So somewhere in the region of 5,500 to 7,500 new homes are dependent on the new station being built.

The Development Agreement included the obligation for Countryside to provide a station building to a shell and core specification. A total of £9.6 million had been allocated by the GLA to the initial phase of the development of the station, with Network Rail responsible for the station fit-out, and the cost being picked up by the GLA.

A later decision by the Mayor committed £32.7 million from the Homes for Londoners Land Fund to the development of the station to ensure it gets built. As the GLA is also a part-owner of the housing development, this is effectively an investment in the housing project as well.

Beam Park station concept image

The new railway station, provisionally called Beam Park Station had been projected to open in May 2022. However, following rumours that the opening of the Beam Park station had been pushed back due to funding issues, Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham has been informed that the promised delivery has been cancelled.

This has been confirmed by the property developer, Countryside Properties, who said that the decision by the DfT was disappointing, but that they remain fully committed to delivering the railway hub.

“The delivery of the station cannot progress until DfT changes its position and agrees to support its adoption onto the wider network, and we will continue to press for their support.”

The DfT’s position appears to be that the station was “poor value for money” and there were concerns about a long term operational subsidy being required. With the GLA agreeing to effectively underwrite the running costs for the next decade, by which time it’s likely that the other 6,000 homes will be completed this would bring around 9,000 homes within walking distance of the station, and any operational loss should fade away.

DfT said that its concern has been to “ensure taxpayers are appropriately protected from the financial and operational risk associated with a new station at Beam Park.” At the moment, they do not feel that the GLA’s financial offer achieves this in full.

That does leave open a negotiating position depending on how large the gap between the DfT’s expectations and the GLA’s funding would be.

A proposed alternative of an upgrade to Dagenham Dock or Rainham stations would leave residents living next to a railway line but having to rely on the bus or car to get to a railway station.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London confirmed that “City Hall has already committed £43 million to deliver the station, which includes a ten year indemnity to protect the DfT against any expected operational deficit. This decision by the Department for Transport is extremely disappointing, but City Hall and partners are in ongoing discussions with DfT to agree a way forward for this important project.”

Updated 18:20 to include details from the DfT.

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9 comments
  1. NG says:

    DfT & the Treasury strike again!
    Electrified railway station? Decarbonisation?
    Can’t have that can we … make ’em use their cars.
    Disgraceful, but about par for the course.

  2. Ramon Prasad says:

    Homes to live in, yes. But also transport facilities from those homes to likely centres of employment which will be required to pay for those homes. Also shopping for the food that families living in those homes might be wanting to eat while living in those homes. Also educational facilities that adolescents will want to access to complete their education. Also access to health service facilities that any member of any family might need at any time.

    It seems that the government, which of course knows perfectly well all of these things, has had a temporary loss of memory, which will be recovered at some point in the near future.

  3. RB says:

    If there isn’t money to be found from the profit on 9000 homes to fund a new station, then something must be seriously wrong with the planning system.

    • ChrisC says:

      Please read the article properly.

      The money IS there – from the developer and the GLA – waiting to be spent.

      It’s the Deptstment for Transport who have stopped it.

  4. NG says:

    My cynicism suggests it’s deliberate, over & above the DfT/Treasury antipathy to rail.
    It’s in E London, with a Labour MP & – of course – Mr Khan at the GLA – what better way to punish them by not spending money here?
    All part of the “Levelling-Up” agenda, which primarily consists ( ISTM ) of bringing London down to the standards if the rest of the country.
    Boris doesn’t need London any more, used & thrown away.

  5. Terry O'Grady says:

    Seems to be a developers ploy. They did the same at Watford. Promise a Metropolitan Line Extension. Obtain planning permission to build loads of new flats and then cancel the promised transport link.

    • ianVisits says:

      As the developers at both locations wanted the rail link, it’s not likely to be a “developers ploy” is it?

  6. Adam Edwards says:

    Build a cycling and walking route parallel with the railway to Dagenham Dock station? Does that improve matters?

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