Plans to extend the Docklands Light Railway to Thamesmead have taken a big step forward after Transport for London formally submitted a proposal to the government.
The strategic outline case sets out how extending the DLR from Gallions Reach to Beckton Riverside and Thamesmead, plus improving bus services between Woolwich, Abbey Wood and Thamesmead, would benefit the area.
If the government helps with funding and an agreement is made by 2025, construction could start in 2028 with the first passengers using the link by 2033.
While Thamesmead has been poorly served by public transport since its first residents arrived in the late 1960s, the new extension is aimed at supporting a new development – Thamesmead Waterfront – on the remaining parcels of undeveloped land in the new town. Mayor Sadiq Khan said the line would “would unlock huge opportunities for London”.
City Hall says that 25,000 to 30,000 new homes could be created in Thamesmead and at Beckton Riverside, another giant regeneration project, with 10,000 jobs created. The extension could cost as much as £1.7 billion, Newham councillors heard in April.
TfL, Greenwich and Newham councils and other bodies have agreed to help fund work on developing plans for the extension, but are asking the government to chip in too.
The partnership – which includes the developers Lendlease, St William, Peabody and the investment house Abrdn – says that the pace of development along the City Airport and Woolwich Arsenal extension since it fully opened in 2009 shows the effect a new line could have.
Andy Lord, the London transport commissioner, said the extension was “a unique opportunity we should not miss out on”.
“By extending the DLR from Gallions Reach to Thamesmead via Beckton Riverside, we can deliver two new accessible stations, connect two major growth areas and four development sites in one go, bringing more housing, retail, leisure activities and unlocking more of London for those who live, work or visit the city,” he said.
“We’ve seen what can be achieved with investment in public transport bringing transformational change over the past few years with the Elizabeth line, the Northern line extension to Battersea and the London Overground extension to Barking Riverside. This strategic outline case is the next step on the way to making this scheme a reality.”
Anthony Okereke, the Greenwich Council leader, said: “This marks a significant milestone in our efforts to regenerate Thamesmead and create sustainable, low-carbon homes. The extension to the DLR will unlock the area’s potential, helping to address the pressing need for new housing in Greenwich and Newham.
“We’re delighted to be working with the partnership to deliver our vision for Thamesmead, and we hope the government will share that vision.”
Abena Oppong-Asare, the Erith & Thamesmead MP, has long campaigned for the connection, saying it would “level up” the area.