Land around railway stations to be used for new housing in the UK

Image A massive programme of development of railway stations and surrounding land will deliver thousands of new homes, the UK government has announced.

Up to 10,000 homes are to be built around rail stations and three local authorities have come forward with ambitious proposals for the first sites which aim to revitalise town centres.

A new agreement between Network Rail and the Homes and Communities Agency will see them working with local councils to trail blaze development opportunities across England’s railway stations for housing and businesses.

The Government wants to hear from at least 20 local authorities to take the scheme forward as York, Taunton and Swindon councils already have proposals to spearhead the new initiative and have identified railway sites that could be pooled to deliver housing and other locally led regeneration.

Drawing on the example set by the transformation of Birmingham New Street, Manchester Victoria and London Kings Cross, the Government said that it will bring together high calibre technical expertise and local knowledge to increase development opportunities that exist throughout the entire rail estate.

‘We’re determined to fire up communities and back local business so they build much needed housing and create thousands of jobs. Rail stations are a hub of communities, connectivity and commerce and should be making the most of their unique potential to attract investment and opportunities,’ said Communities Secretary Greg Clark.

‘With record numbers of people travelling by train, it makes sense to bring people closer to stations and develop sites that have space for thousands of new homes and offices. This new initiative will bring about a step change in development and ensure we go further and faster in putting these rail sites to good use,’ he added.

According to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin it will put stations at the heart of wider community regeneration. ‘I’m pleased to see that exciting visions for regeneration at Swindon, Taunton and York are being developed, with the potential for hundreds of additional homes and new businesses. I look forward to seeing how Network Rail and the Homes and Communities Agency’s excellent work on these projects develop,’ he said.

‘Local areas are best placed to understand and identify the opportunities that exist within their communities. The Homes and Communities Agency and Network Rail will now work with councils on the opportunities they see and any plans already in place to explore how government can support them to deliver locally led regeneration and development schemes quickly,’ he added.

Proposals suggest that land at York Central station can support up to 2,500 homes. Housing would be key to creating a sustainable new community and would include Starter Homes and community facilities. Around 100,000 square meters of office and commercial space for private sector firms could also support more than 6,600 jobs in industries such as professional services. Housing and office regeneration around the station could add £1.16 billion to the local economy.

Regeneration at Taunton station could provide a significant increase in commercial spaces and homes in an underused site on the edge of the town centre. Remodelling of the station layout and car park, supported by the Local Growth Fund would complement this development. This would create a vibrant gateway to the town and strong links to the town centre. This would provide a significant boost to the local economy of one of the South West’s key urban centres, and provide significant residential and commercial growth.

The area around Swindon station could provide opportunities to boost housing in the town by creating homes and commercial opportunities taking advantage of the benefits brought by the Great Western Electrification Programme. Swindon has ambitious plans for the regeneration of its town centre and also the revitalisation of leisure opportunities to the north of the station. The redevelopment of land around the station would help to maximise and enhance these opportunities.

Stephen Barter, chair of real estate advisory at KPMG, pointed out that in the past stations were the thriving hubs of our communities and this announcement will enable them to become so again.

‘By using land around stations as the catalyst for regeneration, not only will we see much-needed new homes and businesses in the area, but we’ll also see a wider regeneration of our town centres,’ he said.

‘With York, Swindon and Taunton leading the way, it must be hoped that other local areas will swiftly come forward. Ongoing Government support, in its various forms, alongside local commitment, will provide a much needed catalyst to create the thriving, mixed use communities that will deliver a boost to these towns and to the UK economy,’ he added.

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BDC 309 : Oct 2023