Katie Stewart (Director Environment, Planning and Enforcement) Joseph Ratcliffe (Transport Strategy Manager) and Katie Pettitt (Principal Transport Planner) were present for this item.
1. Mr Payne asked for clarification over whether the public opinion survey was sufficiently independent and significantly robust in its conclusions and whether yet another consultation had also been taking place in relation to planning aspects of this proposal.
2. Joe Ratcliffe confirmed that there had been a statutory planning consultation between 10 December and 20 January (although responses could be received up to the date of the Planning Committee) and in addition, a public opinion survey had taken place between 6 and 16 January. The report was received late on 23 January and was published for Cabinet on 24 January. There was a competitive tender to procure the survey and Lake Market Research were successful. The survey was of the catchment area of the station, which included the fringes of the urban area of Thanet, the Thanet North Coast and North of Dover District including Sandwich. The sample size was 379 people of which 110 were in the core catchment area of the village of Cliffsend, this was designed to be representative of the station catchment of 20,341 people. Based on the sample size there was confidence that the results were accurate to within 5%. This was absolutely independent and robust but there was always a margin of error, as there was with any survey such as an election exit poll.
3. Mr Payne explained that this was a place making opportunity. The project dated back to 2010 and featured in Kent’s Local Transport Plan 4, adopted by County Council in 2017. The report from the latest survey gave no over-riding reason why the project should be cancelled at this stage. Mr Payne considered that Thanet had been losing out with the port of Ramsgate being shut, Manston airport being shut and trains taking too long to get to London, but that things had been changing and high-speed services to East Kent led to more job opportunities and more investment in this region of Kent. The concept of parkway stations had been shown to work elsewhere, and Thanet Parkway was an infrastructure first project. The station was planned for buses and pedestrians as much as for cars, and electric vehicle charging points had been built into the design from the outset. Mr Payne supported continuing investment in the project to the maximum shown in the report.
4. Joe Ratcliffe stated that prior to the second statutory planning consultation in 2019/20 which followed one in 2018, there had been two public consultations (2015 – over 500 responses and 2017 – nearly 400 responses). Opinions had been mixed, in 2015 68% of respondents had said they would feel at least one benefit of the station. In 2017 34% said they would use the new station, 26% were unsure. These were very mixed results. Within the current survey, of 110 people in Cliffsend village surveyed, 45% of ... view the full minutes text for item 132
1. The Leader explained that the report set out progress to date on Thanet Parkway, explained the commitment by KCC of up to £17.8million to the project and explained the £14million committed to this project by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).
2. The Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee had met on Friday 29 November and discussed this issue. The Committee took note of the issues and cost developments and submitted an amendment recommending to the Cabinet Member that before any further action is taken to effect the recommendations that KCC undertake a further public survey and consultation with one of the questions on the survey being “do you want the Thanet Parkway Station?”. The Leader considered it important to recognise the recommendations and views of the Cabinet Committee whilst being aware of the timeline driven by SELEP Accountability Board meeting on 14 February 2020 and the requirements to deliver the project by March 2021 (the end of the LEP financing period)
3. The Leader suggested that the decision be deferred to the meeting of Cabinet on 27 January 2020 so as to take account of the results of the survey. This was a project on which there had been extensive engagement, deliberation and consultation since at least 2014. This was not a last-minute consultation but given the points raised by the Cabinet Committee it was considered important to honour them.
4. Mr Payne, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, considered that this project would help ease congestion, reconnect to London and act as a placemaking project. Thanet District Council had pledged £2million towards the project and KCC was aspiring to redress the balance between east and west Kent.
5. Mr Payne explained that there was a robust discussion at Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee regarding the costs, reassurance on safety standards and the request for a survey to understand the views of the public in the area. Hence the recommendation to defer the decision to Cabinet on 27 January. It was important to note that the £14million of LGF funding would be lost if this project did not go ahead, it would be available to all areas included in the SELEP area, not just for Kent.
6. Katie Stewart, Director or Environment, Planning and Enforcement, explained that the original cost estimate, in 2014, was £14million, this covered construction costs only. Since then the costs had increased due to archaeology, design and level crossings for example (the level crossing cost was £10.2million).
7. Joe Ratcliffe offered some reassurance about the level of consultation and community engagement undertaken to date which included the following:
- Two full public consultations, 2015 – asking about overall concept of station (492 responses). 2017 – specific questions on design (355 responses);
- The report was available on the website;
- Thanet District Council (TDC) was briefed in advance and letters of support from local companies had been received;
- Feedback had led to design changes, including removal of bridge and the use of existing ... view the full minutes text for item 125