Green Party Councillor and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Thanet South, Ian Driver, has slammed plans for a Thanet Parkway Station as unnecessary, expensive and environmentally damaging.
Kent County Council which is behind the £14million scheme has now launched a major public consultation on the proposal. It argues that the station, located to the west of Cliffsend village is essential to “improve rail access to the Manston Airport site and local business parks; increase job opportunities by widening the employment catchment for East Kent residents and provide additional park & ride opportunities for local residents” (Parkway Station Business Plan, Kent County Council, para 3.1.1)
Said Driver “Manston Airport and the Manston and Euro Kentbusiness parks are quite some distance from the proposed Parkway station and are already served by new fast roads which link into the motorway system. Discovery Park is also linked to a modern road system and is much nearer to Sandwich Station than the proposed Parkway site. Virtually all of the people who work at, deliver to, or transport goods from these business parks use the roads. Having a new station won’t alter this a bit. Also advanced communications technology means more and more meetings with clients, investors and company colleagues from other locations now take place via teleconferencing so there is no need for a Parkway station for business visitors. Even if face to face meetings are necessary what’s wrong with short taxi ride from Sandwich station to Discovery Park or Ramsgate station to the Airport site. The argument that Parkway will improve access to our business parks and create jobs is clearly nonsensical.”
Driver also criticised KCCs suggestion that Parkway station would provide much needed “additional park and ride opportunities for local residents”. (Parkway Station Business Plan, Kent County Council, para 3.1.1). He said “most people using Ramsgate station walk, cycle or take the bus. Even allowing for a major increase in population and more commuting to work there is no need for an expensive park and ride station, you simply develop new bus routes and lay on more regular services to and from the station and extend and improve walking and cycling routes”.
“The real purpose of Parkway”, said Driver, “is to attract property developers into Thanet to build thousands of houses on greenfield sites within a couple miles radius of Cliffsend village in order to meet the target of 12,000 new homes in Thanet Council’s Local Plan. Thankfully, many people are now recognising that this target is massively overestimated and in need of urgent independent review. Such a review will, I believe, demonstrate that far fewer new homes are required and that most of them could be built on previously developed “brownfield” land within the urban boundaries of Thanet. This would do away with the need to dig up valuable agricultural land; cause huge irreversible environmental damage and waste £14million of public money to build homes and a station which are simply not needed”.