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


 

 
 
 
 

Jane Jacobs and Le Corbusier would agree on one thing: we need more social housing

Unite d’Habitation, Marseille. Image: Iantomferry/Wikimedia Commons.

Much has been written in CityMetric and beyond about the urban planning debates of the 1950s and ‘60s, that came to be characterised as a battle between master-planning and preservation. One side of the debate was personified by the father of modernist architecture, Le Corbusier, whilst the counter-argument was advanced by writer and journalist Jane Jacobs.

But when it comes to London’s housing crisis, aren’t there a few things that these two would actually agree on?

Jane Jacobs’ writing about the organic nature of self-organising communities, demonstrated, in her words, by the “intricate sidewalk ballet” of inner city neighbourhoods, should be required reading for anyone interested in how cities function. But today, Jacobs is increasingly invoked in attempts to oppose new developments of any kind. Her role in conceiving Manhattan’s West Village Houses, a low cost rented housing scheme built through New York State’s Mitchell-Lama Program, is unfortunately much less well known. It’s been suggested that if Jacobs were around today, she’d be working with New York’s housing activists. When her seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities was written, there were almost 2 million rent-controlled or rent-stabilised apartments in New York City; nowadays, there are fewer than half that number.

Le Corbusier, on the other hand, is too often blamed for drab high-rise blocks. But regardless of how well his followers across Europe interpreted his ideas, Le Corbusier’s vision for cities was about high quality residential blocks that also contained shops and leisure amenities and were surrounded by parkland – the original mixed use development if you like. His most famous building, Marseille’s Unite d’Habitation, consisted of 337 apartments with views of the mountains and the sea together with shops, a restaurant and a nursery school. The building was originally intended to be public housing, but the French government eventually sold off the flats to recoup costs. Alton West Estate in Roehampton and Park Hill in Sheffield are just some of the examples of Le Corbusier’s influence on the design of post-war council housing here in the UK.

Building homes for a serious business in post-war Britain. Under Attlee’s 1945 Labour Government, 700,000 new council homes were completed. In 1952, the largest architectural practice in the World was at London County Council, with 1,577 staff including 350 professional architects and trainees. These were the days of consensus, and very quickly Tory governments were actually competing with Labour governments about who could built the most council homes.

Some of the council homes built post-war have stood the test of time better than others. But what’s not in doubt is that building council homes on such a scale immeasurably changed the lives of so many families in desperate need of a decent, secure and affordable home. And so many of the post-war modernist high-rise blocks so despised by Jacobs quickly took on the organic self-organising traits that she held in such high regard and have become some of the most enduring and closely-knit communities in London.

Fast forward to 2019 and Right To Buy continues to decimate council housing stock, but perversely home ownership seems more out of reach than ever for so many. An entire generation is being forced to embrace long term private ting in a country that has some weakest protections for private tenants in Europe. Meanwhile, government spending on building new homes fell from £11.4bn in 2009 to just £5.3bn in 2015 – from 0.7 per cent to 0.2 per cent of GDP – and since then, the housing minister’s desk has been occupied by no fewer than six people.


So what would a comprehensive drive for new council and social housing on the scale of the 1945 government’s efforts look like in 2019?

Lubetkin, the architect responsible for Islington’s Spa Green Estate and Bevin Court, summed up the spirit of post-war council home building with his maxim that “nothing is too good for ordinary people”. It’s a vision that we’re trying to recreate through our own council home building programme in Islington.

One of the best opportunities for small council home building schemes is to expand upon existing communities. The vast majority of Islington’s new council housing takes the form of infill, construction on existing estates; in unloved spaces, in old garages, and in old undercrofts. These projects often involve landscaping and new amenities to enhance rather than reinvent local communities. We have built community centres and even rebuilt a library as part of council housing schemes. One Tenants’ and Residents’ Association had an idea for a new specialist over 55s block for the older residents of the estate who wanted to stay in their community.

But there’s a place for large-scale place making as well. When the Ministry of Justice closed Holloway Prison and announced that the site would be sold, Islington Council published a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) on the site. We had one aim – to send a clear signal to the market that anyone who was looking at buying the site needed to be aware of their planning obligations. Most importantly, any development on the site needed to include at least 50 per cent genuinely affordable homes. The speculation around the site came to an end on 8 March this year when Peabody Housing Association announced that it had bought it. It has committed to going well above and beyond our planning requirements, by making 600 out of a total 1000 homes genuinely affordable homes, including 420 homes for social rent. We need to see more detail on what they are proposing but this is potentially brilliant for the borough. A local grassroots group, Community Plan for Holloway, have been instrumental in ensuring that the community’s voice is heard since the site was sold.

To recreate the scale of the massive post-war council home building programmes would require a Jane Jacobs inspired level of community activism combined with the architectural idealism of Le Corbusier. But it would also need the political will from central government to help local authorities get council housing built. And that, sadly, feels as far away as ever.

Diarmaid Ward is a Labour councillor and the executive member for housing & development at the London Borough of Islington.