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High Speed 1 extension is central to blueprint for Kent's future

A blueprint has been launched with Sir Terry Farrell for the future development of Kent, outlining key infrastructure improvements to help regenerate the area.

Five key infrastructure developments were identified as central to Kent’s future regeneration: the extension of the High Speed 1 rail network to as far as Thanet; building a third Thames crossing on the lower Thames; the expansion of Kent International Airport at Manston; high-speed links to Gatwick Airport; and improvements to Dover port.

World famous architect Sir Terry Farrell and Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter launched the blueprint at an event on Thursday entitled 21st Century Kent – a blueprint for the county’s future.

The vision follows the High Speed 1 route through Kent from St Pancras to Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Folkestone to exemplify the transformation that an extension of the UK’s only high speed service could have on the county.

“Kent can lead the way with environmental industries and re-establish its reputation as the ‘21st Century Garden of England’.”

Sir Terry Farrell

Kent County Council leader Paul Carter said the growth project was inspired by the Victorian spirit. “I’ve always been in awe of what the Victorians achieved in such a short space of time and how they prepared the infrastructure that went with the massive housing boom of that era,” he said.

“Sir Terry has set out the art of the possible in 21st Century Kent. If we get these things right, unlocking the potential of Kent by using and enhancing our transport links, and promoting the uniqueness of Kent over the next 10, 15, 20 years and beyond, then we will improve the quality of life of our residents and see growth as a positive and not as a negative.”

Carter said a third Thames crossing around Gravesend would help unlock Kent’s potential. “Projected toll income and lorry charging combine to make this an immediate and practical financial proposition.”

The UK’s front door

Farrell said Kent’s connections and geography could position it as a leading region. “Kent is the UK’s front door – it has the UK’s only high speed rail line, two international rail stations and a major regional airport. Now that London is just 17 minutes from Ebbsfleet and less that an hour from Folkestone, relocating to Kent makes sense for families and business,” he said.

“With the exceptional quality of its landscapes, Kent can lead the way with environmental industries and re-establish its reputation as the “21st Century Garden of England”. It also has the UK’s most diverse and thriving coastline and is perfectly placed for growth. It is essential we take advantage of this as the window of opportunity will not be open for ever.”

South East Regional Minister Jonathan Shaw introduced the launch of Kent County Council’s blueprint at St Pancras Station. Afterwards he said: “As we emerge from recession it is absolutely essential we have the plans in place to ensure the recovery is sustained and long lasting.

“I urge Kent County Council to continue to develop strong links with its partners and communities to help turn the vision into action.”

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