The government has committed £12 million funding for the controversial Thanet Parkway Station project at Cliffsend – reducing the amount Kent County Council now have to invest from £17.8 million to £5.8million.
Planning permission for the scheme, which has spiralled in cost from an initial £11.2 million to an estimated £34.5 million, has been on hold due to the pandemic.
The station at Hengist Way 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.
There will be an additional 20 bays for pick-up/drop-off and taxi parking. The car park includes 16 disabled bays and 19 spaces for electric vehicles. Cycle parking and two bus stops will also be provided.
It is claimed the project will create 800 jobs. The investment comes from the government’s £900m ‘Getting Building Fund.’ It was one of over 300 successful projects “shovel-ready infrastructure projects” to receive support.
Thanet council has pledged £2million for the scheme, £14 million of Local Growth Fund is also allocated by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), and £700,000 from East Kent Spatial Development Company as well as the reduced contribution from Kent County Council.
The £14 million LGF was approved by SELEP on February 14, subject to planning consent. A SELEP spokesperson confirmed this money remains granted, adding: “The award of £12m Getting Building Fund reduces Kent County Council’s funding contribution to the scheme.”
The costs comprise of:
£19.99m for the station and car park (at 80% probability and inclusive of 11% contingency);
£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 government get building fund also allocates £2.5million for Discovery Park Building 500.
The news follows an appeal in the House of Commons last month by South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay for government support of Thanet Parkway.
Mr Mackinlay said:“This is tremendous news for the South Thanet constituency in particular, as well as for the Isle as a whole and East Kent.
“It’s well-known that accessibility to London is a major determinant of economic success. Thanet, with its peripheral location, has endured slow journey times to London. That can now change with a headline journey time of around 1 hour to London Stratford International.
“On the back of the granting of the DCO for Manston supported by £300m of private investment, this £14.5m of public funding is a step-change that will provide a catalyst for regeneration.
“After a difficult period, these are momentous times for Thanet and we can look to the future full of optimism and confidence.”
Earlier this year Thanet councillors Barry Lewis, Karen Constantine (Labour) and Emma Dawson (Con) questioned whether such a large spend should be made on the station in light of the pandemic.
Suggestions had been made that the £17,8 million ring-fenced contribution from Kent County Council should instead be used to fund the coronavirus effort but these were branded ‘disingenuous’ by the authority.
Cllr Barry Lewis said of the funding announcement: “I have spoken to hundreds of people about the problems in Thanet and not one person has said the problem with Thanet is that we only have seven train stations.
“I believe if Thanet Parkway Station is to go ahead all monies should be put in by national government in the same way as Crossrail and HS2. are being funded.
“It is not the job of local councils to give a gift to National Rail without having any ownership of the station.”
Funding for the Discovery Park Incubator will be used to refurbish the ground floor of Building 500 to create world-class research and development space. 50,000 sq.ft. of individual biology and chemistry laboratories together with associated write-up space, and new plant-room equipment will be delivered to attract the companies to this world-class and world-leading science park.
Both projects receiving funding were put forward by the Kent and Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP), the local board of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SELEP).