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Kent County Council insists Thanet Parkway station won't be derailed despite rising costs

By Paul Francis

The estimated cost of building a new Thanet Parkway station has risen to £26m, it has emerged.

The spiralling costs have led a former Green councillor on Thanet council to call for the plug to be pulled on the project.

Ian Driver said the scheme was in danger of becoming a 'white elephant' and the money could be better used in other ways.

The project is being supported by money allocated under the government’s Local Growth Fund to the tune of £10m but is now estimated to come in at £26m - a funding gap of £16m.

According to a report presented to the Kent and Medway Economic Partnership board in January this year, the scheme was “red flagged” because of the rising costs - meaning that it could be at risk of becoming unaffordable.

The report said: “Recent cost estimates are significantly in excess of the £14m budget. Options are currently being explored to bridge the funding gap.”

The rising bill was referred to in a more recent report to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) which described it as "high risk."

But Kent County Council, which is leading the plan to develop a new station, said work was continuing.

In a statement, a council spokesman said:

“Outline design work on Thanet Parkway project continues and a second public consultation is due to be held shortly.”

"The Parkway Station will have an enormous, positive impact on Thanet and the surrounding area by creating new jobs and regenerating the area" - Kent County Council

“The current cost estimate for construction is £16 million and whilst work on the design progresses, we are looking for additional funding from various sources to add to the £10 million provisionally allocated to the project through the Local Growth Fund.”

He added:

"The Parkway Station will have an enormous, positive impact on Thanet and the surrounding area by creating new jobs and regenerating the area.”

But Mr Driver said the project was in danger of becoming too expensive.

He added “I have always argued that Thanet Parkway Station is a massive white elephant which is not needed. It will actually increase journey times from existing Thanet stations to Canterbury, Ashford and London, and it could ultimately lead to the closure of some of Thanet’s town stations”.

He added:

“Building the station will also cause substantial environmental damage. A huge area of farmland will be concreted over to accommodate the platforms, 350 space car park and approach roads. Extra traffic to and from the station will cause congestion and air pollution in an area which is already very congested."

If the scheme does happen, passengers getting on at Thanet Parkway station would be able to reach Stratford International Station in about an hour from early 2019.

The development will include an access road connecting it to the A256 and the A299 at the Sevenscore roundabout.

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