Plans for a new station providing faster rail links between Thanet and London have moved a step closer after the scheme was awarded £14million of Local Growth Fund support via the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).
At its April Accountability Board meeting, SELEP agreed the funding towards Thanet Parkway subject to confirmation the project’s cost will not exceed the agreed budget of £27.7m and that the rest of the funding required has been secured.
The new station would be to the south of site of the former Manston airport and just west of Cliffsend village. Upgrades needed to a level crossing at Cliffsend are still being investigated and only once the next stage of the project design work has been completed can the total cost of the project be confirmed.
The total cost of the project is due to be met by contributions from Kent County Council (up to £10.95million), Thanet Council (£2million) and the East Kent Spatial Development Company (£700,000).
The report to the board stated the new station will reduce journey times between Thanet and central London to an hour, improving the attractiveness of the area to businesses and increasing the employment catchment area for local residents. It will also provide better links with High Speed 1 services, improving access to employment in Canterbury, Ashford and the rest of Kent.
It added that as a result of the improved rail services to London, it is expected the new station will stimulate additional housing in the area which will attract skilled workers. It is estimated the project will lead to the creation of 400 to 800 jobs over a 30-year period from the station’s opening, as well as the development of additional homes over the same period.
Christian Brodie, Chair of SELEP, said: “East Kent suffers from higher levels of deprivation when compared with South East England as a whole, with Thanet being ranked as the most deprived local authority in the county.
“Poor accessibility is a key factor that has discouraged major employers from locating in the area, which has served to undermine the pace of regeneration.
“The improved transport links a new Thanet Parkway station will bring will make the area more attractive to employers and will help attract a more highly skilled workforce, in turn supporting the regeneration of the area.”
The board also agreed to write to the Department for Transport asking for it to urgently order additional Javelin trains to meet the high demand for HS1 services, which it highlighted are already overcrowded at peak times, even before anticipated population growth in Kent and Medway.