There has recently been a growing interest in extending the south-eastern ‘leg’ of Crossrail, which currently terminates at Abbey Wood, into Kent as far as Ebbsfleet, where it could link up with the HS1 high-speed line to the continent, promoting regional development.
The C2E (Crossrail to Ebbsfleet) movement has suggested stations at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Ebbsfleet International.
The proposed station at Belvedere would connect with Bexley Riverside, one of London’s most exciting development opportunities with over 1,100 acres of underused industrial land along 8km of Thames riverfront.
In Dartford, a major new residential community is being planned with potential for 5,000 new homes around a revitalised town centre.
Ebbsfleet, in north Kent, is emerging as the UK’s latest garden city, delivering 15,000 new homes and establishing major economic opportunities around its new commercial zone.
To take these ideas forward, Atkins and Jacobs have been appointed as lead consultants on a new study looking at transport improvements to support growth and regeneration in the corridor between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet.
Funded by the Ministry for Housing and Local Government , which has pledged up to £4.85 million, the work will be overseen by the C2E Partnership, comprising Kent County Council, the boroughs of Bexley, Dartford and Gravesham, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership, the Greater London Authority and Network Rail.
The study will explore and build a business case for enhancing transport links in the area, subject to suitable housing ambition.
Ellis Walker, client director at Atkins, said: “Transport continues to be a key enabler for regional growth, and the Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet Connectivity Study is a great opportunity to help secure a bright and exciting future for the region.
“Our team of experts at Atkins and Jacobs bring significant experience from other transport schemes and a wealth of local knowledge to help the region understand and unlock the potential of local transport investment.”
As lead consultants, Atkins and Jacobs will help C2E launch a broad programme of research and analysis to detail the transport and development challenges within the area, identify possible transport improvement options, understand how these options can support further housing and jobs growth both within the study area and beyond and consider what potential mechanisms could help fund any improvements.
The work will include analysis of a range of transport interventions, engagement with local stakeholders and two phases of public consultation, later this year and again in the new year.
Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley and chairman of the Partnerships Local Authority Board, commented: “This is a really exciting moment for all those who have been pushing for improved public transport in this area and across the Thames Estuary for so long. We know that to get good growth you need to better connect people to jobs and services both locally and in the wider area.
“There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, about the future of public transport and how people are likely to work and use cities. However, we are clear that there remains an imperative to bring forward new, high quality homes and jobs which can be accessed in safe, sustainable ways.
“This study will put the partnership in an excellent position to meet those challenges within the Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet corridor, for the benefit of local residents and businesses, as well as the regional and national economy.”
The study is programmed to last approximately 15 months, ending in the autumn of 2021. Atkins and Jacob are also working with KPMG, who will consider funding and finance options for the scheme.