This week’s announcement to build a Garden City in Ebbsfleet is welcome news.
Although the concept of building houses in the Ebbsfleet Valley is not new, the pot of up to £200m pledged by the Government for infrastructure and the creation of a development corporation to guide the planning is a new approach and should kick-start this project.
When I met with George Osborne to discuss this matter there were three things I wanted him to guarantee.
Firstly I wanted to ensure the protection of the Green Belt. Secondly I didn’t want to see any plans which would jeopardise the proposed theme park in the Swanscombe Peninsula and thirdly I wanted to see Government investment to ensure infrastructure is in place to support this new development. I am pleased that he agreed to all three of these requests.
It has been very frustrating that, despite planning permission being granted and a proactive approach from Dartford Borough Council and central Government, there have been no homes built in the Eastern Quarry.
The £200m for infrastructure is vital. Families don’t want to move to a muddy quarry with no facilities and services to support the new housing. We need good transport links, access to school places and medical provision in place.
The potential for the area is immense. Not only is Ebbsfleet next to HS1, it is also close to Bluewater, which has permission to expand. It is close to the proposed Paramount theme park in the Swanscombe Peninsula as well as near to some of the county’s most beautiful countryside, which will be protected by this scheme.
The development corporation needs to have the input of local people in the process. This is not something we want imposed on residents in the area but something we want to work with them to achieve.
This is a very exciting announcement but we have a lot of work to do to realise the full potential of Ebbsfleet.