The estimated cost of the proposed Thanet Parkway Station at Cliffsend has spiralled to £34.51million – meaning £14million of government funding could be withdrawn.
The original estimated cost of the project was £11.2 million.
The hike in costs means the project will now be reviewed by the SE England Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) – which administers Local Growth Fund cash – in February 2020 with a Full Business Case required to confirm that the project “still presents value for money.”
The project funding package includes £14million Local Growth Fund, £2m from Thanet District Council with a grant agreement currently being drafted, £700,000 from East Kent Spatial Development Company and the remaining funding from Kent County Council subject to a proposed Cabinet decision due to be taken on December 2.
Some £10.2million will be spent by Network Rail on upgrade work to the level crossings at Cliffsend and Sevenscore.
A planning application for the controversial project was submitted in June last year. It is due to be built off the Hengist Way, on the existing Ashford to Ramsgate rail line near the Sevenscore roundabout. It will be a two platform station with the entrance on the north side. There will be a 300 space car park, platforms accessible by stairs, lift and pedestrian bridge.
Waiting shelters, CCTV and passenger information points will be provided on each platform along with ticket machines and a help point to provide remote assistance by intercom.
The station is designed to be unstaffed and managed remotely through the use of CCTV and intercom.
The aim is to provide improved services to London Stratford International station. However a statement from the Department for Transport, in response to a Freedom of Information request by former councillor Ian Driver, said the proposal would shave just one minute off of journey times from Ramsgate and Margate.
The original estimated cost of the project was £11.2 million but in 2016 documents from a SELEP and Kent & Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP) meeting said the cost could rise to £26 million. KCC rebutted this saying construction costs were expected to be £16 million and the revised total was £21.4million.
However, SELEP documents from a meeting yesterday (November 15) show that cost is now expected to stand at £34.51million.
The document says: “Efforts will be made to reduce the cost of the scheme, especially the level crossing works, through reduction of the contingency which is still at a high level due to the current stage of design.”
The costs comprose of:
- £19.99m for the station and car park (at 80% probability and inclusive of
- £10.20m for the level crossing upgrades (at 10% probability and
inclusive of 57% contingency – this level of contingency is standard
industry practice with work at GRIP1 stage);
- £4.14m for other costs including the highway junction works,
archaeological mitigation works, land purchase, planning costs, legal
costs and fees.
The document also states that the government’s Local Growth Fund award could be withdrawn if the entire project costs cannot be met.
The document says: “It is noted that in advance of any LGF being drawn down or spent on this project, a final business case must be presented, which confirms: the total increased cost of the project; and, that all respective funding allocations are in place. If the full funding package required to meet the increased total project cost cannot be confirmed by February 14, 2020, the current £14m LGF allocation may be reallocated.”
SELEP board papers say the Thanet parkway Station is expected “to lead to the creation of an additional 400 to 800 jobs over a 30-year period from station opening, as well as development of 1,600 to 3,200 additional homes over the same period.
“These outcomes will be driven by improved accessibility both to existing key employment sites and to potential housing and commercial development sites, as well as more desirable commuting times to London.”
If the station plan gains the needed funding it is expected to be operational by 2022.
Mr Driver, who has consistently campaigned against the station project, said: “The answer to better transport to and from Thanet is not a £34.5 million, polluting and environmentally damaging station at Cliffsend, but investing money into improving our already existing stations.
“With the provision of safe walking and cycling routes and regular public transport to and from these stations, not only would this be a much cheaper alternative, to Parkway, but it would be healthier and more environmentally friendly too.”