Around 430 vacant railway arches could be reopened across London, following the £1.5 billion purchase of Network Rail’s commercial property portfolio.
Property investors Blackstone and Telereal Trillium have won a bid to buy 5,200 properties from Network Rail, including over 4,000 railway arches.
The arches are spread throughout the capital from Stratford to Herne Hill, to Battersea and Camden.
Telereal Trillium’s managing director Adam Dakin told the Standard there are 930 vacant arches across England and Wales, and he wants to look at reopening the 430 that are located in London.
Dakin said his firm wants to support existing trader tenants in London, including breweries, gyms and hairdressers, who number more than a thousand.
“We want to keep the quirky and independent nature of the tenant mix,” said Dakin.
He added that the landlord is prepared to put money aside to help small businesses if they are struggling.
Blackstone and Telereal Trillium beat rival bidders Kildare Partners and Guy Hands’ Terra Firma, after Network Rail hired Rothschild to put the portfolio up for sale last year.
Will Brett, of the New Economics Foundation think-tank, which is supporting the Guardians of the Arches campaign group, warned many tenants have been forced out by “eye-watering” rents.
“Any new owner is going to have to work very hard to prove they are genuinely on the side of small businesses based in arches,” Brett argued.
Sammy Forway, who runs The Underdog gallery at the Crucifix Lane Arch, London Bridge, said: “My message to the new owner is please work with and nurture the existing businesses, and promote new ventures to keep a loyal and long-term tenancy.”