The UK government has announced a massive programme of developments of railway stations and surrounding land, which will deliver thousands of new homes.
Up to 10,000 homes are set to be built around rail stations and three local authorities have suggested resourceful proposals for the first sites which aim to bring town centres back to life.
A new agreement made between Network Rail and the Homes and Communities Agency will get them working with local councils to lead to development opportunities across England’s railway stations for housing and business.
The Government wants to have conversations with at least 20 local authorities to move the scheme forward, whilst York, Taunton and Swindon councils already have proposals to launch the new initiative and have identified railway railway sites that could be used to deliver housing and other locally led regeneration.
Using the successful transformations of Birmingham New Street, Manchester Victoria and London Kings Cross as examples, the Government said that it is aiming to bring together high calibre technical expertise and local knowledge to create more 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 indicate that land at York Central station can provide enough space for up to 2,500 homes. Housing is the first step to creating a sustainable new community and would include Starter Homes and community facilities. Furthermore, an extra 100,000 square metres of office and commercial space for private sector firms could could support 6,600 jobs in industries such as professional services. In total, housing and office generation could add £1.16bn to the local economy.
Regeneration at Taunton station could lead to a significant increase in commercial spaces and homes in an underused site on the edge of the town centre. The development would be complemented by a remodelling of the station layout and car park, supported by the Local Growth Fund. These changes would create a buzzing gateway to the town, strong links to the town centre and extraordinary boost of the local economy.
The area surrounding Swindon could provide opportunities to boost housing in the town by creating homes and commercial possibilities taking advantage of the benefits introduced by the Great Western Electrification Programme. Swindon has far-reaching plans to regenerate its town centre and also revitalise leisure opportunities north of the station, with the redevelopment of the surrounding land enhancing those opportunities.
Stephen Barter, chair of real estate advisory at KPMG, explained that stations – in the past – used to be the thriving hubs of our communities and now they get a chance to fulfil this role again in the future.
“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.
Source: Property Wire