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WSP: 280,000 homes 'could be built over London railways'

More than 280,000 new homes could be built above railways to help tackle London’s housing crisis, according to global consultant WSP.

The firm claims it has identified 1,142 km of space above London’s train lines and underground stations that could be utilised for residential development through using existing engineering techniques.

The idea was first proposed by the consultants in a report last year, called Out of Thin Air.

According to the Mayor of London, the capital’s housing crisis means that 66,000 homes need to be built each year to keep up with demand.

If just 10 per cent of all available space above railways was used for development, WSP claims this demand would be met, and over four years’ worth of housing could be provided.

The proposed buildings would be 12 storeys high, with a minimum area of 100 sq m per home. The consultants added that they could be built in areas where there are no breaks in the track made by tunnels, roads or bridges and where there is 10 m of available land on both sides.

The potential homes would be required to comply with TfL’s public transport accessibility levels, so would need to be within 1.6 km of a station.

WSP director Bill Price said: “As an industry we need to focus on radical solutions to overcome the housing crisis in our capital.

“Rail overbuild is not just about creating new homes, it’s also about creating new, safe, environmentally-friendly and vibrant communities that such developments can offer.

“Planning and getting commission for the height can be difficult,” Mr Price added. “There are plenty of places in London where you can’t imagine getting [permission for] a 12-storey building.”

Brent, Croydon and Ealing were highlighted as the boroughs with the greatest area of suitable rail land, with almost a fifth of the identified land across London between them.

This comes after TfL announced its build-to-rent initiative that aims to deliver more than 3,000 new homes across sites in London.

Argent, Grainger and Greystar were shortlisted by TfL last week as potential partners for the proposed sites, including developments in Canning Town and Hounslow.

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