Residents and traders react to A13 tunnel plans

Residents and traders have branded plans to put a major East London road underground as “madness.”

The leader of Barking and Dagenham Council has announced plans to move 1.3km of the A13 into a tunnel to build new houses on the land above and reduce pollution.

Havering and Barking and Dagenham councils estimate that the tunnel would take almost £1 billion to build and maintain – but would bring in £800 million for the local economy over 60 years.

Locals who live and work near the busy A13 had mixed reactions to the announcement.

Rain Tanees, supervisor at the Thatched House pub next to the A13 said that construction and traffic disruption would be bad for business.

He said: “For us it’s a problem because when they are working all the dust comes in one side of the bar.

“It’s Friday today – normally it’s busy but there are no customers because of the traffic.”

He added that the A13 tunnel plan would have mixed results.

He said: “For traffic I think it’s a good idea, but not for business. Because of the traffic people don’t want to stop and come in.”

Colin Bradford, who lives near the A13 said that with so many new buildings in East London, he couldn’t see where the council would find residents to move into the planned homes.

He said: “I think it’s a bad idea.

“I don’t know where they will get these people.

“It sounds like madness.”

He added that he drives on the A13 less often than he used to because of the busy traffic.

He said: “I used to but I try and avoid it now.

“I always thought there needed to be four lanes. First thing in the morning it’s madness.

“A four lane tunnel? I can’t see it.”

Not everyone near the A13 was against the council’s idea – Dagenham resident Seidat Oyebanjo said that she thought new homes were important, even if it meant disruption.

She said: “Accommodation is a good idea.

“It will affect me a bit but if they need to do it they need to do it, that’s what I think.

“We all have a right to accommodation – it’s a good initiative. 

“It’s for the young people to benefit. That’s what life is all about – it’s give and take.”

Haisel Clarke, who uses the A13 every day, agreed that the tunnel was a good idea.

She said: “It wouldn’t bother me. I can always work out another route – that’s the beauty of Dagenham.

“It’s been planned for years – they were going to but then stopped, maybe because of financial reasons.

“I think it’s a good idea to put it underground.”

A report by Barking and Dagenham and Havering councils said that the tunnel would help to reduce traffic bottlenecks, lower pollution, and build 5,000 new homes.

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell said that they UK government should invest in the scheme as part of its levelling up agenda.

He wrote in the Barking and Dagenham Post that the tunnel would: “Help us build more homes we need and cut harmful vehicle emissions.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in putting the borough first.

“We need the government to do its bit to meet us halfway and genuinely level up.”

Alastair Lockhart

Local Democracy Reporter