Surrey Canal Road – A Sporting Chance?

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With the East London Line extension from Dalston Junction to Highbury and Islington opening shortly, we can now turn our attention to the extension to Clapham Junction.

ELL Phase 2 runs from the new graded junction built as part of the phase one works at the northern end of the Silwood Triangle. Just over a mile of new railway needs to be built over the former link from the East London Line, south of Surrey Quays, to the South London Line just south of South Bermondsey Station. Readers unfamiliar with the route might like to read this description by U Thant on our precursor blog.

Although Phase 2 of the ELL was approved by the DfT, the Mayor and TfL failed to get included the approval for the building a £7 million station at Surrey Canal Road, although agreement was reached for passive provision to be made for the station. This could then be built at a later date, dependent on the pace of local development proposals. Such local developments are now coming to pass.

Lewisham Council are now considering a planning application for the regeneration of a roughly triangular area of the borough centred on Milwall’s stadium and bounded by the South London Line to the west, and the LB&SCR main lines to the north and west.


The 1912 Railway Clearing House diagram above shows the rich and complex interconnecting pattern of Lewisham’s railways. The line to be re-laid is the former ELL/SLL route diverging just south of the then Deptford Road Station to join the SLL just north of then Old Kent Road Station – with an intermediate chord to the western side of the now New Cross Gate Station. This latter chord was replaced by the new flyover that runs past the new depot at New Cross as part of the ELL phase one programme – the original track bed having been built on as part of the development of the Fairview Estate.

The RCH diagram handily includes the Surrey Canal, along which runs the Surrey Canal Road. Roughly where the canal intersects with the railway is the proposed site of the Surrey Canal Road station. Our Chum 853 has just published a this equally handy history of the Surrey Canal itself, which is worth a read.

Planning proposals have been submitted to Lewisham Council by the specialist regeneration property company Renewal. They relate to a 30 acre site (roughly the size of the Barbican) around Millwall football club’s New Den stadium. Designed by architects, Studio Egret West (SEW), the plans, dubbed “Surrey Canal – London’s Sporting Village”, aim to create a new regional centre of sporting excellence together housing and shops next to the ground. The plan features a number of towers – the tallest being 26 storeys. The existing South Bermondsey Station, on the SLL, and the planned Surrey Canal Road Station on the East London Line, both feature prominently as part of a scheme to improve access to and from the area surrounding the Millwall Football Club stadium, whilst minimising local dislocation on match days, as well as creating new opportunities for both inbound and outbound commuting.

David West, of SEW describes this as: ‘A hugely exciting project which will transform an inner city site and deliver a whole host of benefits for the existing communities of North Lewisham. It will also improve connections and linkages, opening up the local area through the introduction of a new park at Bridge House Meadows and high quality public spaces forming a green armature through the site.’

Renewal’s full application for outline planning permission can be found here whilst the transport assessment can be found in the environmental statement here:
Part A
Part B
Part C

To be found within part C of the transport assessment, Renewal’s statements of intent concerning the new Surrey Canal Road Railway Station are of particular interest (bolding ours).

11.3.1

A new station at Surrey Canal Road has been part of the East London Line Extension Phase Two proposals for some period of time. The site of the station is located on the eastern boundary of the Application Site.

11.3.2

An original business case prepared by TfL for the station was made. Renewal has already shown commitment in relation to promoting the benefit of the new station and has pressed for, and funded, the re-evaluation of the business case for the station to take account of the future demand from the Application Site and surrounding regeneration proposals. The scale of the Proposed Development on the Application Site represents a considerable level of potential patronage for the new station. The subsequent business case was accepted and as such the economic case that the station is demonstrated to have a good public sector case has been made. A new station at Surrey Canal Road would benefit the new residents, employees and visitors to the Application Site as well as the wider communities within Lewisham and Southwark.

11.3.3

Notwithstanding the business case being made for the station funding for this additional station as part of the phase 2 of the East London Line Extension has not been secured.

11.3.4

Although funding for the new station itself is not presently within the East London Line extension phase 2 works, TfL have confirmed that passive provision will be provided on the line to enable a new station at Surrey Canal Road in the future without the need to implement significant line closures.

11.3.5

TfL’s funding provision runs to 2016 and does not include any allowance for provision of the new station. However after 2016 the situation is less clear both in relation to public sector funding or any other funding sources.

11.3.6

It is recognised that the delivery of the station is of importance to the regeneration of the Application Site, particularly in delivering necessary improvement to its accessibility. The station provides a good level of service immediately to the east of the Site and as such provides noted accessibility benefits. The new station is envisaged to be served by a relatively high frequency service of 4 trains per hour. The station improves the accessibility of the Application Site and is an important element of the proposed transport strategy.

11.3.7

Renewal is keen to ensure that there is no ambiguity in relation to their commitment to deliver the new station or to the benefit that it would bring to their Site, as well as the wider communities within Lewisham and Southwark.

11.3.8

In light of the accessibility benefits of the station, Renewal are prepared to enter into a commitment to provide the net additional funding required to deliver the station. This commitment should reflect that there may be other sources of funding that can be made available for the new station and that there should be the potential for a ‘claw back’ should this materialise from any other sources.

11.3.9

It is understood that tenders have been returned in relation to the East London Line extension phase 2 and that these tenders include options with and without the station being delivered at Surrey Canal Road. At present the implications of this are not known by Renewal, either the net additional cost of the station being included in the East London Line extension phase 2 works or the alternative option of the station being constructed at a later date. Renewal is keen to explore these issues further with TfL.

11.3.10

There should be a combined effort by both London Borough of Lewisham and TfL to ensure that best value is achieved through the tendering process and in relation to the delivery of the required infrastructure in a timely and efficient manner.

11.3.11

TfL should also commit to ensure the provision of a level of service at the station that is appropriate to the needs of the local area and the demand from the regeneration of the Site in the future.

11.3.12

The station is, however, not an up front requirement for the Proposed Development. There is a need to agree the timing of the delivery for the new station with TfL, based on the construction of the Proposed Development. If economically viable an early implementation of the station could be considered.

11.3.13

The case for the new station, and its benefits, has been proved by an accepted business case. The new station is deliverable with passive provision already having been made for it as part of the East London Line extension phase 2 works. The funding of the net additional cost to ensure that the station is delivered will be accepted as a commitment associated with the Proposed Development on the Surrey Canal Site and there will be a “back stop” point identified when this new station would be implemented by. The funding and timing of the station’s delivery are both able to be addressed as part of the planning commitment for the Proposed Development.

11.3.14

Renewal appreciates fully the benefit of the station in terms of improving the accessibility to the Site and is fully committed to seeing its implementation. The new Surrey Canal Road station will create economic benefit across the local area.

It is worth stressing that at this point this is not a done deal and there is a fair amount of due process to go to get from outline and then detailed planning permission from Lewisham to construction and completion. The analysis presented so far is encouraging though, as is the developer’s grounded approach. If the Mayor is in the mood for spring cleaning, then perhaps a certain amount of dusting of the ELL Phase 2 plans might be in order.

Written by Mwmbwls