REGENERATION PROJECTS worth in total over £1bn may be put at risk by the uncertain future of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
The government estimates that the CTRL will be the catalyst for regeneration work totalling £500M. And around 80,000 new jobs would be created on top of the 8,000 related to the line's construction and the 2,000 needed for its operation.
However, by its own admission, the government's figures are an underestimate. They take no account of regeneration around the CTRL terminus at St Pancras or in east Kent, close to the Ashford International station.
The London Borough of Newham estimates that the siting of a CTRL station in Stratford, east London - a project which is included in the government projections - will generate regeneration work worth £500M alone. This is on top of the cost of building the station itself.
Camden Council greeted the news of LCR's problems by demanding the return of the 40ha Railway Lands north of the intended St Pancras Station site - the largest urban development site in Europe.
Council leader Richard Arthur said: 'We deeply regret that this may be the second occasion when a major developer has failed to develop these lands due to original plans which were over-ambitious, leading to blight and stagnation of over 40ha of central London for more than a decade.'
Whitecliff Properties is developing the 800,000m2 'new community' around the planned station at Ebbsfleet in north Kent. It said it would 'reschedule' the scheme to take account of any delays in building of the link.
Asked the implications of cancellation, Whitecliff chief executive John McCready said in a statement: 'When there is a link, there will be a station. When there is a station there will be development surrounding it'. He added: 'Whitecliff is confident that a high speed rail link will be built. The route is determined by an Act of Parliament.'
Kent County Council leader Sandy Bruce-Lockhart has written to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott asking for his 'absolute assurance that government will ensure that the CTRL and Ebbsfleet International Passenger Station are progressed at the earliest opportunity'.