£12m Essex underpass project takes steps forward


The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) is to provide the majority of the cash for a planned £12m underpass in Grays town centre in Essex.

The LEP is putting in £10.8m for the £28m Grays South project - with £7.1m newly dedicated to the scheme - which features an underpass below a railway line in Grays town centre.

A further £10m from Thurrock Council is going into the Grays South project and the LEP also agreed to supply £3.7m in February 2019, to support the capital development costs, including initial land acquisition.

The underpass forms part of Phase 2 of the wider Grays South Regeneraion Area scheme, and is designed to boost footfall in the town centre, with pedestrian access currently via a level crossing.

The latest business case for the project puts the estimated cost of the underpass, including access steps, ramps, structures and public squares, at nearly £16m. An earlier business case gave a cost of £12.3m.for the underpass and access, with the public squares costed separately at £2.5m. Land costs are estimated at around £6m. 

A spokesperson for SELEP acknowledged that since the project was considered by its accountability board earlier earlier this year, the total cost of the project has increased to £28.739m from the £27.437m. 

SELEP said the frequency of closures to the level crossing – which has been found to currently be one of the most dangerous in the eastern region – is expected to increase as a result of increased freight train frequency along the line from next year.

An image of Grays Town Centre with the planned underpass

SELEP chair Christian Brodie said: ‘Alongside a potential pot from the Towns Fund, this contribution to the GSRA Scheme from the Local Growth Fund will help to form the basis of a high quality regeneration project for the town centre of Grays.

‘The opening of the Lakeside shopping centre in 1990 impacted Grays town centre, while declining footfall figures on high streets across the country in recent years have caused local authorities to examine how to attract consumers into town centres.’

Grays was recently announced as one of the six towns in the SELEP area that made the list of 101 towns eligible for up to £25m funding each from the £3.6bn Towns Fund.

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