Transport Secretary Grant Shapps approved the safeguarding of the Bakerloo line extension route last week, which councils have labelled a “hugely positive step”.  

Transport for London (TfL) is proposing to extend the Bakerloo line from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham along the Old Kent Road, with potential to extend to Hayes in Bromley.  

The extention has strong support from the public, according to the results of TfL’s consultation, and is backed by both Southwark and Lewisham councils.  

It is hoped the plans will boost local economies, drive regeneration projects in deprived areas, and “dramatically cut” journey times. 

But the future of the extension seemed uncertain after the Mayor of London dropped the scheme from his priority list in September and failed to ask the Government for funding. 

TfL said it was “being realistic about what is affordable over the next decade”. 

Last week, however, in response to a question from Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle about what he was doing to “ensure construction begins on time”, Mr Shapps said he had “just approved the safeguarding of the land to ensure it can happen”. 

Safeguarding, which needs to be sanctioned by the DfT, aims to ensure that land which has been earmarked for major infrastructure projects is protected from conflicting developments ahead of any construction.  

The move, which will protect the land required for tunnels and new stations, will help ease fears, though it is unclear when funding will be available. 

In a joint statement Southwark leader Cllr Keiron Williams, Lewisham mayor Damien Egan, and the Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander described it as a “hugely positive step” that will “prevent premature development on sites required to deliver the project”. 

“Extending the Bakerloo line, delivered together with an upgrade of the existing line, would connect a historically underserved part of London to the tube network, whilst supporting the delivery of thousands of new homes and jobs.  

“It has the support of nearly nine in ten respondents to its most recent public consultation, as well as from businesses and local authorities along the proposed route, which will be protected once the safeguarding directions are finalised in the coming months. 

“We will continue to work with government and others on options for funding so this vital project can be delivered and its many benefits realised,” they said.