Building over rail infrastructure and terminus stations is helping to relieve the pressure of increasing city density in London. The idea of overbuilding has gained momentum in recent years. In London, where land values are high and there is pressure to increase city density, a number of significant projects are in progress or in the pipeline of planning and development.
London has a history of developing over rail infrastructure and typically at rail terminus stations. Good examples from the 1980s include Liverpool Street and Charing Cross. In both instances, major commercial offices were constructed over the challenging rail environment to create significant value concentrated on a transport hub. These projects were technically complex but also very successful. Other examples were constructed and many opportunities examined, but the business case often dominated the scene with many schemes failing. The usual failure points comprise:
- Decking costs being too high (span width, special foundations, etc.);
- Rail restrictions creating risk and uncertainty; and
- Extended programme periods associated with approvals and possessions.
More recently, and especially since 2012 in London, the economic climate has improved significantly. At the top of the residential market, London is regarded as a leading investment location, attracting large quantities of overseas as well as London-based funding. The overall profile and prosperity of London is also causing population growth which in turn is creating housing demand in excess of 40,000 homes per year for the next ten years.