TfL rejects calls for extra station and better names on the Bakerloo line extension

Bakerloo line trains at London Road depot, mournfully wishing they could continue their journey to the south. Image: Getty.

So, the good news is: Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed long-awaited plans for a southward extension of the Bakerloo line.

The bad news is: in doing so, it’s ruled out the extra station campaigners had been pushing for, and is still ignoring suggestions for a frankly amazing set of station names.

Plans to extend the Bakerloo have been dribbling along for some time now. It’s the odd one out on the existing network because, while most lines extend from central London in both directions, the Bakerloo runs all the way to zone 5 in the north but never leaves zone 1 in the south. (The Jubilee once did much the same, and that was extended 20 years ago.) Its southern terminus also lies at the edge of the great south London tube and rail desert: an area between the Northern line, Bermondsey and Peckham which lies within a couple of miles of central London but is a right pain in the bum to get to.

The great tube and rail desert. Inside the yellow box, there are basically no stations in walking distance. Image:  Google Maps/CityMetric.

And so, there is both motive and opportunity for this project: the line isn’t already full, and an extension would go somewhere useful. What’s more, the Old Kent Road has a fair amount of land where you could put more houses, which new tube stations would unlock. This, one suspects, is the reason that the New Cross Gate/Lewisham got approved, rather than the Camberwell/Peckham one.

So here’s a very vague map of phase 1:

Phase 1. Image: TfL.

The two “Old Kent Road” stops are not very usefully named, and the map is unhelpfully vague. But they would, TfL, says, be at (1) the junction between Dunton Road and Humphrey Street, and (2) the junction with Asylum Road.

The tube/rail desert, with the rough location of the new stations marked. Image: Google Maps.

If it goes ahead, TfL claims, it’ll open by 2029, and help create 25,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs. Phase two would swallow the Catford and Hayes line, currently operated by Southeastern.

This is all brilliant, isn’t it? It’s brilliant, and frankly anyone from any other British city would be well within their rights to punch any Londoner that whined about it.

But whining about London’s world-class transport system is what this entire website was built on and I’m not going to stop now, and if that induces a certain amount of punching I guess I’ll just have to accept it. And also, this week, Southwark council sent me this map, illustrating its own version of the plan and it’s just... better:

 

Ahhhh. Image: LB Southwark.

There are two reasons I prefer this. One is that extra station, Bricklayers Arms. TfL says this isn’t necessary, on the grounds it’s within a few minutes’ walk of both Elephant & Castle and Borough.

But while that’s true, and I’m sure they’ve run the numbers and stuff, it’s worth noting that the Bricklayers Arms is only a mile from the City and under two from Westminster and the West End. This would be a great spot to increase population density, so we should maybe build the transport capacity that would enable you to do that.

The other reason that this map is better is the names. None of these “Old Kent Road 1 (TBC) nonsense. Instead we get Burgess Park and Asylum. And how can you not want there to be a tube station called Asylum?

Here’s another map of this proposed extension, courtesy of the Back The Bakerloo campaign website:

Southwark council has pledged to continue fighting TfL for the extra station. We shall see.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites


 

 
 
 
 

Businesses need less office and retail space than ever. So what does this mean for cities?

Boarded up shops in Quebec City. Image: Getty.

As policymakers develop scenarios for Brexit, researchers speculate about its impact on knowledge-intensive business services. There is some suggestion that higher performing cities and regions will face significant structural changes.

Financial services in particular are expected to face up to £38bn in losses, putting over 65,000 jobs at risk. London is likely to see the back of large finance firms – or at least, sizable components of them – as they seek alternatives for their office functions. Indeed, Goldman Sachs has informed its employees of impending relocation, JP Morgan has purchased office space in Dublin’s docklands, and banks are considering geographical dispersion rather concentration at a specific location.

Depending on the type of business, some high-order service firms will behave differently. After all, depreciation of sterling against the euro can be an opportunity for firms seeking to take advantage of London’s relative affordability and its highly qualified labour. Still, it is difficult to predict how knowledge-intensive sectors will behave in aggregate.

Strategies other than relocation are feasible. Faced with economic uncertainty, knowledge-intensive businesses in the UK may accelerate the current trend of reducing office space, of encouraging employees to work from a variety of locations, and of employing them on short-term contracts or project-based work. Although this type of work arrangement has been steadily rising, it is only now beginning to affect the core workforce.

In Canada – also facing uncertainty as NAFTA is up-ended – companies are digitising work processes and virtualising workspace. The benefits are threefold: shifting to flexible workspaces can reduce real-estate costs; be attractive to millennial workers who balk at sitting in an office all day; and reduces tension between contractual and permanent staff, since the distinction cannot be read off their location in an office. While in Canada these shifts are usually portrayed as positive, a mark of keeping up with the times, the same changes can also reflect a grimmer reality.  

These changes have been made possible by the rise in mobile communication technologies. Whereas physical presence in an office has historically been key to communication, coordination and team monitoring, these ends can now be achieved without real-estate. Of course, offices – now places to meet rather than places to perform the substance of consulting, writing and analysing – remain necessary. But they can be down-sized, with workers performing many tasks at home, in cafés, in co-working spaces or on the move. This shifts the cost of workspace from employer to employee, without affecting the capacity to oversee, access information, communicate and coordinate.

What does this mean for UK cities? The extent to which such structural shifts could be beneficial or detrimental is dependent upon the ability of local governments to manage the situation.


This entails understanding the changes companies are making and thinking through their consequences: it is still assumed, by planners and in many urban bylaws and regulations, that buildings have specific uses, that economic activity occurs in specific neighbourhoods and clusters, and that this can be understood and regulated. But as increasing numbers of workers perform their economic activities across the city and along its transport networks, new concepts are needed to understand how the economy permeates cities, how ubiquitous economic activity can be coordinated with other city functions, such as housing, public space, transport, entertainment, and culture; and, crucially, how it can translate into revenue for local governments, who by-and-large rely on property taxes.

It’s worth noting that changes in the role of real-estate are also endemic in the retail sector, as shopping shifts on-line, and as many physical stores downsize or close. While top flight office and retail space may remain attractive as a symbolic façade, the ensuing surplus of Class B (older, less well located) facilities may kill off town-centres.

On the other hand, it could provide new settings within which artists and creators, evicted from their decaying nineteenth century industrial spaces (now transformed into expensive lofts), can engage in their imaginative and innovative pursuits. Other types of creative and knowledge work can also be encouraged to use this space collectively to counter isolation and precarity as they move from project to project.

Planners and policymakers should take stock of these changes – not merely reacting to them as they arise, but rethinking the assumptions that govern how they believe economic activity interacts with, and shapes, cities. Brexit and other fomenters of economic uncertainty exacerbate these trends, which reduce fixed costs for employers, but which also shift costs and uncertainty on to employees and cities.

But those who manage and study cities need to think through what these changes will mean for urban spaces. As the display, coordination and supervision functions enabled by real-estate – and, by extension, by city neighbourhoods – Increasingly transfer on-line, it’s worth asking: what roles do fixed locations now play in the knowledge economy?

Filipa Pajević is a PhD student at the School of Urban Planning, McGill University, researching the spatial underpinnings of mobile knowledge. She tweets as @filipouris. Richard Shearmur is currently director of the School, and has published extensively on the geography of innovation and on location in the urban economy.