Building on the success of the London Overground, which has seen a four-fold increase in passenger numbers since opening in 2007, Transport for London (TfL) is now planning a further extension. Twenty five new stations will appear on the tube map next year, and one of those destinations will be Clapton.
The Overground network was intended to give less-affluent areas in London’s Zone 2 a regeneration boost, by improving the stations and their surrounding areas, as well as quite literally putting them on the map. The arrival of the Overground has indeed helped Hackney, one of the few vestiges of affordable housing in London, become a property hotspot. Even before the Overground arrived in East London, property prices were rising sharply, as people searched for housing along the line in anticipation of the service.
Many stations incorporated into the Overground have been rebuilt or redeveloped, and services have drastically improved along various portions of the line. The difference with the proposal in Clapton, however, is that the service and station will – initially – remain largely the same. Nonetheless, by simply being integrated into the Overground network, it is certain that perceptions of Clapton will change.
Indeed, E5 is already abuzz with a wide range of opinions on what the neighbourhood is, and it will be interesting to see how the “new line” will shift these. As recently as last year, before TfL announced the integration of the Overground to the area, the Guardian published an article titled “Let’s move to Clapton”, on account of its position on the frontline of inner London gentrification. Demand is expected to continue to grow along the newly integrated lines as people become aware of new journey opportunities, and as regeneration continues.
The Economist suggests that – alongside TfL’s other major programmes such as Crossrail and the Northern Line extension – the reopening of the now-decrepit Hackney Downs station under TfL will be a true test of the organisation’s powers and ability to change London for the better. With the lure of still-affordable Victorian property and two recently refurbished stations to boot, it won’t be a matter of whether Clapton will become a destination in itself, but when.
Bright Pryde is a founding member of the Young Urbanists at The Academy of Urbanism