Railway arches: a lifeline for industry in London?



As competition to aquire land in London intensifies, economic growth is emerging in unexpected places. Railway arches, in particular, are being appropriated for many different uses, hosting bars, cafes, theatres, gyms, car washes, manufacturing units, music practice venues and tourist attractions. There are 10,000 arches in London. Network Rail and Transport for London own and lease most of the arches, so they are managed in a ‘parallel’ rental market to other property, less immediately vulnerable to competition for land and hence relatively affordable. The arches seem to be particularly attractive to small manufacturing firms. A study carried out in 2012 in three sets of arches in Bethnal Green, Bermondsey and Hackney found that 23% of firms were manufacturing compared with 10% in London as a whole (Froy, 2012). The arches also host smaller businesses – roughly 50% of the 165 firms interviewed in the study identified that this was their…

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About Shahid Hussain Raja

An independent consultant with specialization in agriculture sector policies, food security, civil service and governance reforms, capacity building of senior government officers and prosecution of high profile corruption cases in developing countries.
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