Deivi Norberg

Thesis title:

Uncertainty under the arches: Network Rail’s commercial property sell-off and the crisis of affordable workspace in London


In September 2018, Network Rail agreed to sell over 5000 rental spaces across England and Wales (out of which 70% were railway arches) as a single commercial portfolio to investment groups Telereal Trillium and Blackstone Property Partners for £1.45bn. The sale represents the latest in a long line of public asset sell-offs in the UK through which rents are shifted from the public to the private realm. The potential impacts are particularly acute in East London, where small businesses have revitalised the local rail infrastructure while contending with rent increases of up to 300%. However, the sale also represents a rare opportunity for organisation among businesses that share a common landlord. Local businesses organised through the East End Trades Guild have responded by developing an Affordable Workspace Manifesto, culminating in a campaign for London Working Rent.This project proposes a collaboration between the East End Trades Guild (EETG), the New Economic Foundation (NEF) and the School of Geography at QMUL in order to generate much-needed evidence on the impacts of the National Rail sell-off in East London and the possibilities for collective organisation and intervention. This research will advance theoretical understandings of socio-economic value and, specifically, inform emerging policy debates on affordable workspaces in the context of the transfer of rents from the public to the private sphere.

First supervisor:

William Monteith

CASE partner:

East End Trades Guild (EETG)


8 – Urbanisation, Social Change & Urban Transformation