London’s newest station has opened in Barking and thousands of homes are in the process of being built, as the riverside ghost town is set to boom.
While Barking Riverside is eerily quiet for now, the £300 million development will see the construction of 10,000 new homes and is already seeing more people move into the district.
It is predicted to have a swarming population of more than 26,000 by 2030.
A bus driver on the EL1 bus route, which goes to the area, said: “It’s quiet now because of the school holidays, but it will get very busy with the start of the new term.
“Since we’ve diverted our route to come down here there’s been a lot of young people jumping on the bus and it has been very hard to manage.
“The buses get so packed that kids try to stand up on top of the bus and break the back doors.
“This is just an inkling of what it could possibly be like after all of these people start moving in.”
He said he hopes that Transport for London (TfL) will start catering to the population growth by putting a lot more buses on the route.
With Riverside School being one of the UK’s biggest free schools, he fears that the already busy school will have even more students join once residents start moving in.
Barking Riverside Station opened just last month, providing a new transport link to Barking.
This connects Barking Riverside to the Hammersmith & City line, the District line and the c2c train from Essex to Fenchurch Street.
As part of the Healthy New Town programme by NHS England promoting health and wellbeing, Barking Riverside has a number of unique features.
- a low carbon District Heating Network where heating and hot water is locally generated and delivered to homes via highly insulated pipes.
- The Wilds, a new multi-purpose ecology centre, also host to Grounded, the community-led coffee shop.
- one of the largest automated waste collection and recycling systems in Europe – Envac provides residents with cleaner streets, free from overflowing bins and waste collection trucks.
Barking Riverside local Muhammad Raafay said he has already noticed that there is now a lot more people.
Referring to the congregational prayer that is organised at The Wilds by Muslims in the local community, Raafay said, when he went to the first one, there was only two rows but these days it gets quite busy.
He added: “I’ve recently moved into a new property here and the people are generally nice although the demographic of people is very different to where I grew up in Ilford.”
Raafay said as a result of the new station, property prices have gone up, which is a benefit the station has provided for when he wants to sell.
From Barking Riverside Pier, the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers is yet another transport link that allows commuters to travel across London, stopping at 24 piers along the Thames between Barking Riverside and Putney.
In line with the plans to make a Barking Riverside a Healthy New Town, the district is promoting walking and cycling by providing numerous public footpaths and cycle routes.
This includes plans for a five-mile cycle route that will allow cyclists to connect from Ilford to Barking Riverside.
Barking & Dagenham Council recently completed work on a greenway that allows pedestrians and cyclists to get from Barking Riverside to neighbouring Thames View via an off-road route.
In addition to this, more than 20% of the parking spaces at Barking Riverside are fitted with electric vehicle charging points.
Barking Riverside station also has a large, secure cycle store to park bikes so it is easier for residents to cycle to and from the station.
Noushad Ahmed, customer service assistant at Barking Riverside station said: “I think the new station will really help locals and local businesses.
“There’s no shops around so it’s very difficult – just the one Co-op.
“We need more shops, but I believe they’ll come anyway.
“This is just the beginning and it’s all in the process.”
Noushad believes that the good travel links will make it easier for residents on a day-to-day basis.
He explained that there is, however, TSI security in the station who patrol.
Noushad added: “One thing that is missing is police patrolling – there’s none at all.
“I haven’t seen a police car in sight and I think it’s needed since it’s a really quiet area.
“It’s a dead end. Sometimes I close the station to go home and it’s a bit scary, not for me but for some people.”