Live above your station: 300,000 homes could be built above London railway tracks — for the fastest commutes in town
One priority for new-home buyers is to find an area with good low-cost transport options. But just how close to a Tube or railway station do you want to live?
In Chongqing, in southwestern China, a new metro line runs right through the middle of a residential tower — but in London there are also opportunities to get cosy with rail connections.
“Over-rail development can make a huge contribution to solving London’s housing shortage when land is limited within the capital, and construction technologies enable us to improve facilities,” says Brandon Buck, director at architects Perkins+Will.
How do you solve a problem like Clapham Junction?
The fourth busiest railway station in the UK, Clapham Junction is overwhelmed by the burgeoning population of Battersea and Wandsworth and expansion of the commuter belt.
This vital transport hub runs workers into London from Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, and even connects to Milton Keynes.
But the swell of new households moving into the area thanks to the regeneration of Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms, and The Ram Quarter development in Wandsworth Town, is set to lead to a 40 per cent rise in the number of journeys through and to the station.
The damning results of a recent customer service survey confirmed that Clapham Junction is too congested, with poor shopping and only one step-free entrance.
New proposal: Clapham Junction should be overhauled and transformed into a community-based station with shops and 5,000 to 7,000 new homes built above the platforms, track and sidings
A new proposal, seen by Homes & Property and put together by architects HawkinsBrown, engineering firm Mott MacDonald and construction group Laing O’Rourke, maps out a dramatic overhaul of the station and surrounding Network Rail site.
This would involve creating a community-based station, rather like the successful King’s Cross project, that could be enjoyed by local people and not act solely as a transit point for commuters.
The team proposes adding more platforms, straightening the tracks to make them more efficient, creating a new space for shops above and below ground, studios for creative businesses and co-working offices.
The speculative plan would also include 5,000 to 7,000 new homes to be built above the platforms, track and sidings.
While no formal process has been put in place the consortium is in early talks with Wandsworth borough council and Network Rail.
Schemes putting homes above train lines are still in their infancy but HawkinsBrown Architects has designed two blocks to sit above the western ticket hall at Tottenham Court Road Tube station, with 92 homes across both buildings.
Hudson Yard, a high rise development over 64 acres of live tracks in Manhattan, has helped inspire plans by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation which is deciding how to transform Willesden Junction, while talks are also under way regarding an ambitious plan to build above Victoria station.
The need to improve rail services, especially with the potential arrival of Crossrail 2, provides an opportunity to create a new town centre with Clapham Junction station at the heart of it, and to build much-needed new homes that would be constructed off-site in a factory, explains Mott MacDonald engineer Ian Watkins.
“Clapham Junction is a scar on the landscape and it separates different areas around the station,” he says.
Potential for 300,000 new London homes over railway tracks
A recent report from engineers WSP shows that nearly 300,000 homes could be built in London above railway tracks.
Mott MacDonald’s Watkins says: “There are challenges, of course. The building of homes must not interfere with signalling or site lines. There’s the issue of getting natural light into the railway station if you are building on top and around it.
“Clever acoustic design must be used to counter noise and vibrations for residents. If there is a fire, homes must be protected. The whole site must feel integrated but operate separately.”
North London new homes above railway tunnels
The Pavilions in Caledonian Road has 96 new rental homes within a nature conservation area encompassing a disused railway embankment on the edge of the King’s Cross masterplan.
Just 16ft below the surface, railway tunnels run into St Pancras.
From £1,685 a month: private rental flats from L&Q housing association at The Pavilions in Caledonian Road, N1
The seven buildings, clad in brick and glazed ceramic tiles, are landscaped with climbing plants, green walls and green roofs.
Built by Telford Homes and designed by architects Jestico+Whiles, the scheme has been bought by L&Q housing association.
A one-bedroom flat rents for £1,685 a month. It’s 0.07 miles from Caledonian Road & Barnsbury Overground station.
In towers above Archway Tube station there are 118 rental homes. Vantage Point by Essential Living has an on-site 24-hour residents’ team and 7,000sq ft of social space, including a private dining room for rent, a games room and a gym.
Twickenham’s new station complex
One-, two- and three-bedroom apartments are being built over Twickenham station and tracks. It’s part of Twickenham Gateway, a new station building in the centre of a public plaza, with shops and a café at ground level and the new homes above. The development is due to launch with prices this month. Contact Dexters on 020 8108 3383.
New over-building projects tend to lean towards rental homes, as buyers still think of station areas as unattractive. “To make them desirable, aspects like impressive architecture, apartments with appealing interiors and facilities for a modern life, such as gyms, should be added,” says JLL’s Nick Whitten. “And as they become more popular, people will become more open to the idea and start to buy.”
Crossrail’s my new neighbour at Royal Arsenal Riverside
Among the first residential schemes to be built above a Crossrail site, Cannon Square by Berkeley Homes is part of the £1.2 billion Royal Arsenal Riverside scheme that will offer 5,000 homes and stretch over 88 acres.
Crossrail benefits: Wahab Ahmed bought in Royal Arsenal Riverside
Wahab Ahmed, 28, an actuary, bought a two-bedroom apartment in Naval House, a mid-rise Cannon Square block.
Royal Arsenal Riverside will be home to one of the only two Crossrail stations south of the river once the line is open.
Although Cannon Square is sold, there are homes remaining for sale on the periphery of the Crossrail station site in Pavilion Square. One-bedroom homes available here come at 20 per cent below market value under Discount Market Sale. Prices start from £320,000. Call 020 8331 7130 for more information.