The much delayed Barking Riverside redevelopment in east London has taken a major step forward with crucial infrastructure funding for the scheme close to being approved.
Securing funding for an overground rail extension is likely to be a catalyst for construction to begin on the transformative residential project.
Developer Bellway Homes had planned to build 10,800 homes on the site when it acquired it in 1994 but plans were shelved because of a lack of transport links.
A section 106 agreement meant that up to 1,500 homes could be built on the site ahead of the construction of the line but only 800 homes have been delivered so far, according to Barking & Dagenham Council.
But the scheme has received a boost after Transport for London called on its finance and policy committee to approve a £172m tranche of funding from Barking Riverside, a partnership between Bellway Homes and the Greater London Authority.
TfL said it was a “matter of urgency” that the funding was approved so work could begin on the rail line.
It added that the committee was in discussion with stakeholders over the funding with a decision expected within “the next couple of weeks”.
Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell told Construction News that an agreement for the funding was a “formality”, paving the way for construction to begin by next year.
He said: ”I believe that it [the funding] is a formality.
“The chancellor and the prime minister both support it so it would be a bit embarrassing if it did not happen.”
Altogether the line will cost £263m. The remaining £95m will come from budgeted TfL finances that have already been agreed.
The project will see the Gospel Oak to Barking line extended by 4km to a Barking Riverside station.
Last year, TfL issued a prior information notice for the Barking extension calling for contractors to declare an interest in building the line.
Designs are expected to be completed by spring 2017, with the main contract to be awarded by next autumn.
The approval of the funding will be a significant step forward for the scheme after nearly 20 years of planning.
In March 2014, chancellor George Osborne said the government was going “to build more homes in Barking Riverside” after being lobbied by London mayor Boris Johnson.
It is hoped the 10,800 homes will built by 2030.
Mr Rodwell said that the train line could be a catalyst for tens of thousands of more homes in Barking and Dagenham and its neighbouring boroughs.
He said: “In the area around Barking Riverside, there could be more than 80,000 homes built, the train line is crucial to this.
“This won’t all happen tomorrow this will be over a 20-year period but obviously the sooner we get the line in, the sooner we can start with that work.”