- South East LEP awards £7.1m from Local Growth Fund to Grays South project
- The development of an underpass to replace the existing level crossing in Grays will potentially boost footfall in the town centre and create a safer mode of crossing the railway line for pedestrians
- The South East LEP previously agreed to supply £3.7m from the Local Growth Fund at its Accountability Board meeting on the 15th February 2019
- The underpass built using the funds from LGF will unlock the next phase of the Grays South Regeneration Area Scheme, namely the creation of 1,279 sq m of modern commercial and mixed use floorspace and 84 residential units
The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will provide £7.1m from the Local Growth Fund (LGF) to the Grays South project, which forms part of Phase 2 of the Grays South Regeneration Area (GSRA) Scheme, designed to boost footfall in the town centre by addressing the issues caused to pedestrian flow in the town centre by the level crossing currently in place.
Reports and public consultation found that the railway line – which bisects the town of Grays and acts as a barrier to pedestrian movements between Grays South and the town centre to the north – has resulted in low pedestrian flow along the southern part of Grays High Street. The frequency of closures to the level crossing – which has been found to currently be one of the most dangerous in the eastern region – is also expected to increase as a result of increased freight train frequency along the line from 2020.
The GSRA Scheme has been designed to contribute towards generating additional footfall within the town centre as well as support the development of an evening economy. The project has been developed to respond to a lack of town centre facilities to serve the 4 million annual passenger movements through the town railway station.
Phase 1 of the GSRA Scheme comprises the refurbishment and extension of Civic Offices, which is being brought forward by Thurrock Council to bolster its presence in Grays to in turn increase footfall in the town centre. Phase 2 of the scheme is split into two parts, with the LGF set to be used to support Phase 2a. Working alongside Network Rail, this phase is earmarked for the creation of an underpass to replace the existing level crossing and for the creation of a public square at each end to provide active urban spaces with the potential of being used for events, markets and other activities.
The highway relocations and property demolitions required for the underpass and public squares in Phase 2a will create the space required to unlock the development potential of Phase 2b, which will see the creation of 1,279 sq m of new modern commercial and mixed use floorspace and 84 residential units.
The LEP previously agreed to supply £3.7m from the LGF at its Accountability Board meeting on the 15th February 2019, to support the capital development costs of the project, including initial land acquisition costs. This means the Grays South project has been allocated £10.8m from the LGF.
South East LEP Chair Christian Brodie said:
“Alongside a potential pot from the Towns Fund, this contribution to the GSRA Scheme from the Local Growth Fund will help to form the basis of a high quality regeneration project for the town centre of Grays. The opening of the Lakeside shopping centre in 1990 impacted Grays’ town centre, while declining footfall figures on high streets across the country in recent years have caused local authorities to examine how to attract consumers into town centres.
“This scheme will contribute towards making the town centre a safer and more attractive and accessible place to visit, thanks to the creation of an 8 metre-wide pedestrian underpass to replace the existing pedestrian level crossing. The creation of new public squares alongside modern commercial space will provide opportunities for community events, draw crowds into town and, in turn, better support local businesses.”
Grays was recently announced as one of the six towns in the South East LEP area that made the list of 101 towns eligible for up to £25m funding each from the £3.6bn Towns Fund, alongside Colchester, Harlow, Hastings, Margate, Newhaven and Tilbury.
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