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Railway development to deliver homes and jobs

Words: Laura Edgar
York railway station

Communities secretary Greg Clark has announced a new programme of development of railway stations and surrounding land, which aims to deliver thousands of new homes and jobs.

The plan includes building up to 10,000 homes around railway stations.

The agreement between Network Rail and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) will see them work with councils to “trailblaze” development opportunities across England’s railway stations for houses and businesses, according to the government.

They will also explore how the government could support new and existing schemes.

York, Taunton and Swindon councils have come forward with proposals for the scheme, identifying railway sites that could be pooled together to deliver housing and other locally led regeneration, said the government.

The government's plans draw on the work undertaken on Birmingham New Street, Manchester Victoria and London’s Kings Cross stations, bringing together “high-calibre technical expertise and local knowledge to increase development opportunities that exist through the entire rail estate”.

Clark said: “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.

“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.”

Clark said this initiative would bring about a “step change” in development, ensuring that the government goes “further and faster” in putting these rail sites to “good use”.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: “We are determined to ensure further opportunities are grasped to put stations at the heart of wider community regeneration. This will help deliver thousands of new homes and jobs and deliver a substantial return to the taxpayer.”

James Harris, RTPI policy officer, said: “We are pleased to see the government supporting collaborative efforts to develop land around railway stations. These can be challenging sites to deliver, but the projects referenced in Birmingham, Manchester and London show the wider regeneration benefits that can be realised when transport investment is coordinated with new housing, employment space and improvements to the public realm.”

Planners, Harris said, are “uniquely” placed to work with landowners, infrastructure providers, developers and the local community to deliver a vision for these strategic locations.

“This includes determining the appropriate balance of housing types and employment space, and ensuring that developments form part of a wider inter-modal transport strategy which covers not just rail, but all forms of public and active transport,” Harris concluded.

The government wants to hear from at least 20 local authorities to take the scheme forward.

Transport infrastructure: Investment, a report by the RTPI about capturing the wider benefits of investment in transport infrastructure, can be found here (pdf).

Image credit | iStock