Published: 10:01, 27 August 2015
Crossrail, the 73-mile railway being built under London, should be extended to a new garden city in Kent, according to the chairman of the company building Paramount resort.
In an exclusive interview, former transport minister Steven Norris said the business case for extending the new railway line to Ebbsfleet was “very strong” now that plans for a new community in the area are taking shape.
More than 15,000 homes were pledged for the area by Chancellor George Osborne last year, as he proposed building the first garden city in the UK for more than 100 years. So far about 50 have been built at Castle Hill.
It is expected many of the people moving into the area will work at the new London Paramount entertainment resort if it opens as planned in Easter 2020.
Mr Norris, who was an MP for 13 years and twice ran for London mayor, accepts transport is a major issue for many people who will live near the park on the Swanscombe Peninsula and sees Crossrail as a big part of the answer.
The east-west line, which is the biggest construction project in Europe, will increase the capacity of the capital’s transport network by 10% when it opens in 2018. It will be fully operational the year after.
The developers of the Paramount resort, London Resort Company Holdings, will submit a planning application for the £3.2 billion attraction this autumn and have made proposals to get visitors using public transport central to their scheme.
Mr Norris, who chairs the board, said he would be lobbying strongly for the new railway to be extended from its current most easterly point at Abbey Wood.
He said: “The only reason Crossrail didn’t go to Ebbsfleet in the first place is because there wasn’t a business case for it. I believe there is now a very strong business case.
“I will certainly be arguing very strongly with the mayor, the Department for Transport and whoever is the franchise operator for Crossrail.”
Mr Norris would not be drawn on which option he preferred for the new Lower Thames Crossing.
Robin Cooper, the chief executive of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, which will spearhead house building in the area, has said he favoured a crossing east of Gravesend, rather than another at Dartford.
Mr Norris said: “We need more capacity and we need it fast. We need a decision quickly.
“As the Paramount project gathers momentum inside government as well as with investors, we can have the clout to say to the Department for Transport ‘move this up your capital programme’.
"We need it to be open when we are open. It is no good building it five years later.”