Saturday, January 28, 2023

Stanford-le-Hope station plan stalls after 50 per cent increase in cost

PLANS for a new Stanford-le-Hope rail station have hit the buffers after Thurrock Council was faced with a 50 per cent increase in building costs.

Contractors Vulker Fitzpatrick were signed up to build the station to the east of London Road in the first phase of the project but after the hefty increase in costs, the contract was rejected as being “outside the procurement rules”.


A second phase involves designing and building a transport interchange connecting bus, rail, cycle, taxi, and pedestrian modes of transport, but the council, which is facing a £469 million deficit, must now find a new contractor.

Councillors at a planning, transport, regeneration overview and scrutiny committee meeting were told just £15million of the £29 million budget remains for the two schemes and £7.5 million of that relies on completing the design and costings for the interchange by June in order to secure South Essex Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) funding.

Councillors were left “disappointed” at the progress of the project following the update from Kevin Munnelly, assistant director, regeneration and place Delivery on Wednesday. Mr Munnelly acknowledged the project was at risk but said plans and designs were at a more advanced stage than before.

Shane Hebb, Conservative councillor for Stanford-le-Hope West said: “Nearly anyone who has had any involvement with it or lives anywhere near it are absolutely sick to the back teeth of the lack of delivery on this project. I’ve heard once too often about how things are being looked at and it will go to the directors board .

“A number of us many years ago raised the point that our belief in our ability to deliver major projects as an authority is definitely a concern and that’s manifest in this project.”

Lee Watson, Labour councillor for West Thurrock and Stifford, added: “My serious worry is the SELEP money. I do not think you are going to be able to deliver in time for the SELEP.”

The original station was demolished in 2020 and replaced with a temporary structure at a cost of £6.1 million. A design for the transport interchange was later dismissed as unworkable.

Thurrock is not alone in hitting snags in delivering station upgrades.

Dilapidated Basildon Station has attracted calls for it to be demolished and disabled commuters face a two-year wait for works to be completed at Chalkwell Station to make it accessible.

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