Lance Digby is a Development Manager at LLDC.
Stratford Station has long been an important connecting point in the capital, bridging commutes for many of those travelling across London and from the East of England. This has been recognised within the Mayor’s Transport strategy, identifying Stratford as a key strategic hub, acting as the gateway to London for the whole South East of England, including Essex, Kent and the wider Thames Estuary area.
However, with fast paced regeneration in the area – and with more people being drawn to Stratford not just to pass through, but also to work, visit and come home to – Stratford is now the 7th busiest station in the UK.
Even during the height of the first lockdown, Stratford Station was on the list of the Mayor’s stations to avoid as people tried to socially distance during busy services.
By 2031, it is forecasted that the station will be unable accommodate the increased demand and fail to function safely as a station, dealing with 55 million more passengers than they would have been in 2016. It is expected that off-peak usage will be higher than peak travel. So rather than rail staff being able to use the typically quieter period to clean up after the mayhem of a Monday morning commute, the station will be busier during the day before picking up an even busier post-work peak window.
Unsurprisingly, we are seeing increase in demand on the Park too. Since 2014, the Park has seen over 34 million visitors. In a typical football match, we will see around 60,000 fans swarm to the London Stadium, and we see higher numbers when hosting concerts for acts such as Beyoncé and Muse.
With further regeneration to come, we are only going to see those numbers soar. We will draw more business to the Park through developing our Inclusive Innovation District – attracting entrepreneurs and innovators to the Park, testing future technologies which will change the way we live – and, of course, East Bank will draw in thousands of university students and is set to be the biggest investment in culture and education since the Great Exhibition. Inevitably a lot of this will add extra pressure on the public transport which serves the area, and we can’t be a victim of our own success.
We know that we have to make sure Stratford Station can meet growing demand so that people can enjoy their journeys safely, and that is why we are now working with our partners at London Borough of Newham, TfL and Network Rail to make a business case to government, for large scale, redevelopment of Stratford Station, as part of a wider vision for the surrounding station area.
We are working with our partners to make the case to government over the next couple of years, starting with commissioning an urban design framework, recently awarded to 5th Studio, which is looking at the many opportunities redevelopment of this scale can offer the area.
What we need at Stratford will be at the same scale of intervention as we have seen at King’s Cross St Pancras, Victoria and London Bridge. This isn’t just about making sure that the station itself can deal manage more people, but it is also to make sure that connectivity to the station is improved for local communities, and that wider development serves the local need and economy.
We know that the benefits of this project will come long after LLDC’s lifetime as we look towards transitioning our powers from 2024. However, we are determined to drive this important project forward, to facilitate and secure the lasting legacy of Stratford’s regeneration.