Chris Grayling has backed plans to extend the London Overground to the massive new Barking Riverside development, which the local council leader has dubbed ‘Barcelona on Thames’.
The transport secretary has approved a Transport and Works Act Order allowing Transport for London (TfL) to start construction on the rail extension to the 180-hectare brownfield development, which includes 10,800 new homes.
An artist's impression of the new station
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘Barking Riverside has huge potential to deliver thousands of much-needed affordable homes, and the extension of the Overground will ensure residents have the high-quality transport links they need, both to the surrounding area and commuting into central London.
‘Barking Riverside will deliver new homes, schools, healthcare facilities and much more, and the Overground extension is a vital part of making these exciting plans a reality.’
Cllr Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: ‘This shows Barking Riverside is on track to become Barcelona on Thames. It’s also yet another sign that Barking and Dagenham is at the epicentre of London’s eastward shift.'
The 4.5km extension to the Gospel Oak to Barking line will operate with four trains an hour and is set to cost £263m on top of the costs of the current, delayed, electrification works.
TfL said the extension is fully funded, with £172m of the cost of the scheme being met by the developers, Barking Riverside Limited. It said the remainder ‘will partially come’ from TfL’s Growth Fund.
Transport Network reported last year that the scheme had been hit by a price hike of around £60m.
TfL said that ‘as many as 50%’ of the new homes could be affordable. When Mr Khan approved the masterplan for the scheme last year, he set a minimum of 35%, 'with provisions to raise this to 50% over time'.
Although Mr Khan's manifesto pledged a target for 50% of new homes to be affordable, he admitted last year that he could not enforce this.
TfL said the contract to construct the line is expected to be awarded next spring, with construction due to begin in summer 2018 and train services commencing in late 2021.