Surplus DLR land released at Bow for new housing to tackle homes shortage

Construction could soon get under way for new housing scheme with disused railway land being released

Construction could soon get under way for new housing scheme with disused railway land being released at Bow Church DLR - Credit: Optivo housing

More disused railway land is being released for housing in the East End by Transport for London. 

The transport authority has selected the Optivo housing association to build 150 new homes next to Bow Church DLR station in Bow Road.

Half is to be at the “affordable” low end of the rental market. The scheme also includes shops. 

“We're determined to do all we can to tackle the housing crisis in London,” Optivo’s chief executive Paul Hackett said. “We’re working with TfL for the first time on this site and are committed to building desperately needed homes.” 

The housing organisation, which manages 45,000 properties across London, the South East and Midlands, begins detailed design and public consultations shortly, before any planning application to Tower Hamlets Council. 

TfL’s Jonathan Cornelius said: “This is a prime location in Bow. We hope to provide new homes as well as improvements for the community such as commercial space to support the economy.” 

Father Richie and Bishop Newman at Cable Street in 2018 blessing disused TfL land to be used for housing

Father Richie (left) and Bishop Newman at Cable Street in 2018, blessing East End's first disused TfL land to be used for new housing - Credit: Mike Brooke

The first surplus TfL railway land to be released for development was in Shadwell in 2018 when a dilapidated railway yard in Cable Street was handed to East London Land Trust. It followed a campaign by Citizens UK and parishioners from St George’s-in-the-East who spotted the unused land going to waste. The site was formally blessed in a ceremony with Holy Water by the Bishop of Stepney Adrian Newman, Fr Ritchie from St George's  and the new Bishop of London Dame Sara Mullally. 

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A land trust holds the freehold in perpetuity for future generations while families lease a home of their own based on the average East End working wage, who would sell back to the trust on the same terms when they move on, with no property speculation to inflate its value.  

The new site released by TfL at Bow is not a land trust, but is part of the GLA's London Plan to reduce the housing shortage. Work has been started on 1,500 new homes across London, with thousands more in the pipeline. These are aimed creating revenue for TfL to plough back into the public transport network which is facing a cash crisis because of the pandemic.