Anger as government steps in to cancel new railway station in East London

If you’ve never heard of Beam Park, you could easily be forgiven. The new 3,000 home housing development between Dagenham and Rainham in East London isn’t on London’s Tube and Rail map.

It should have been though. In fact, it had to be. Beam Park is being built in three different phases called Phase 1, 2 and 3. In a planning application which was approved in 2019, and a formal decision on the station in 2020, it stipulated that construction of Phase 2 could not start until the developers in Phase 1 built the ticket hall of a new station which was to also be on the site in.

It appears that Phase 2 started anyway and residents have already moved in to homes constructed in Phase 1 with no sign of the train station, which would be on the c2c line between Fenchurch Street/Barking and Grays.

Now, the Department for Transport (DfT) says it will not give approval for the new station, which means even if it was built, it could not be opened.

READ MORE:’We were sold a lie’: East Londoners hit breaking point over Crossrail delays

Beam Park will look like this very soon… but without the railway station planned on the right hand side

Beam Park is expected to be 80 per cent flats and 50 per cent affordable housing when it is completed, so it will need better public transport links. Three bus routes serve the area so far although it is not within walking distance of the nearest train station despite the line running straight past it.

The station was fully funded, with City Hall providing £43million which included a ten year indemnity (backup) which would have meant the government would take on no risk from the station’s operations. Despite this, local MP Jon Cruddas reports that the DfT is pulling the plug because the project would still represent poor value for money and pose ongoing operational problems.

The DfT claims its concern is to ensure taxpayers are appropriately protected from the financial and operational risk associated with a new station and that the £43million offered by the GLA does not do this in full.

Jon Cruddas, the local MP, said: “This discovery blows the whole situation wide open. We now know that the delivery and ongoing cost of a new station poses no financial risk for the government, yet they have withdrawn approval for the scheme, throwing the development of thousands of new homes into contention. We have also had confirmation from developers that delivery of a new Beam Park station was a condition of planning consent.”

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MyLondon spoke with the developers L&Q and Countryside, who affirmed Mr Cruddas’ statement and confirmed they will try to get the DfT to change its mind. A spokesperson added: “The DfT’s recent decision to not support the delivery of Beam Park station is disappointing and we will be working with our partners to agree a way forward.”

We know that the station is one of the key components for the regeneration of the wider area and remain fully committed to delivering the railway hub. Alongside our partners, we are actively engaging with the Secretary of State and will be escalating and contesting for immediate review.”

It seems everyone bar the central government wants a review. A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “This decision by the Department for Transport is extremely disappointing, but City Hall and partners are in ongoing discussions with DfT to agree a way forward for this important project.”

Residents have taken to social media to express their frustration, with numerous Facebook posts in residents groups leaving angry comments at the news. It has been described as “betrayal” by the local residents association who are furious with the government’s intervention.

Mr Cruddas’ office reports that local residents are now seeking legal advice on whether or not they purchased their homes under false pretenses given that the initial planning application made clear the station had to be built. It is not clear if the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps’ decision to cancel its construction could invalidate the initial planning application.

What is clear is that Phase 2 is being built even though there are still no signs of the station, which was not supposed to happen.

0 Monorail for Beam Park

Beam Park has gone from having a monorail in the concept stage to having nothing now

It’s a dramatic pivot from original very transport-focused proposals for a monorail to provide frequent trains directly to and from Beam Park.

The DfT points out it is committed to provide better connectivity whilst demonstrating that an investment provides appropriate value for money for tax payers and balances the needs of all passengers on the route, so is still open to consultation.

Crucially, it insists that the Secretary of State never gave initial approval to withdraw anyway. A spokesperson for the DfT said: “The Department of Transport is not responsible for cuts to funding as the project was to be funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA).”

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