With both Lewisham and Southwark ranking relatively high on the Index of Multiple Deprivation, the BLE will provide much-needed connections between local communities and the rest of London’s economy.
As well as boosting transport links, the BLE will relieve congestion on roads, thus reducing carbon emissions and air pollution. This will be a critical step towards achieving the Mayor’s goal for 80% of all trips to be made by foot, cycle or public transport by 2041.
Growth potential in Lewisham and Southwark’s opportunity areas makes this infrastructure all the more important. The BLE and wider upgrade would support the delivery of over 110,000 much-needed homes – with the potential for 20,000 new homes in Old Kent Road and a further 27,500 across New Cross, Lewisham and Catford – and 130,000 jobs in ten Opportunity Areas in the capital.
With just 29 stations south of the Thames, compared to over 200 north of the river, it is clear more needs to be done to boost connectivity in the south of Greater London. LCCI supports extending the Bakerloo line beyond Lewisham to Hayes and Beckenham Junction. This would improve public transport connections while supporting growth in the London boroughs of Lewisham and Bromley.
Furthermore, London’s business community supports extending the Bakerloo line. Polling by LCCI and Savanta ComRes found that nearly half (44%) of firms say the BLE would have positive impact on their business.
However, we must learn lessons from Crossrail’s delays and budgetary overruns, and the consequent impacts on business confidence. Options for funding the BLE will need to be explored and consulted on, particularly in view of a changing political landscape, in which focus is increasingly diverted towards other parts of England.
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