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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Lower Thames Crossing reveals successful Community Fund projects

  • 55 community and environmental projects along route of the proposed new road have been awarded a share of £250,000 Lower Thames Crossing Community Fund

  • Projects awarded grants of up to £10,000 each include Cyclopark and Cobham Pre-school in Kent, Orsett Primary School in Thurrock, Odyssey Explorer Scouts in South Essex, and Friends of Dagnam Park in Havering

  • Other schemes previously funded by the project include high-speed broadband in South Ockendon, restocking trees within Cobham woods in partnership with the National Trust, Essex Wildlife Trust habitat creation and environmental enhancements at Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve with RSPB.

National Highways has today (Thursday 11 May) unveiled the successful community and environmental projects across Kent, Thurrock, Essex and Havering that have been awarded grants through the Lower Thames Crossing Community Fund.

The £250,000 fund has been set up by National Highways to support local charities and not-for profit community groups near the route of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing. Working in partnership with Essex and Kent Community Foundations, 55 projects north and south of the River Thames have been awarded grants of up to £10,000 each. These include:

  • Cobham Community Pre-school – garden redevelopment including an outdoor learning area with shelter and climbing wall

  • Re-Engage - Social groups and befriending service for older people across Essex

  • Thames and Medway Canal Association – a new cabin to act as a central hub for the preservation and enhancement of canals

  • The Cyclopark Trust – a new cycling Skills Zone for children and young people, with provision for people with disabilities

  • Orsett Primary School – providing new outdoor play equipment

  • Odyssey Explore Scout Group – investing in new camping equipment so they can participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award

  • Friends of Dagnam Park – supporting a conservation programme

If the Lower Thames Crossing is given the go ahead by the government, a larger Community Fund will be established to support communities near to the new road as its being built.

Emily Dawson, Head of Benefits, Lower Thames Crossing said: “We’re committed to helping local communities make the most of our investment in the road network. The Lower Thames Crossing is a transformational project that will improve the journeys for millions and give the region a huge boost. In the coming weeks the project will take a step forward as our plans are examined by the Government’s independent planning authority. In the meantime we are delighted to share the details of the fantastic projects we are investing in today, so that our neighbours can feel the benefit of this investment years before a spade goes into the ground.”

Councillor Ray Morgon, Leader of Havering Council said: "We’re really pleased with the funding received from National Highways for the Dagnam Park restoration works. For councils like London Borough of Havering, there isn’t always enough money to do the things we want to do with green spaces and heritage, so it's fantastic that organisations such as National Highways help to fund these types of projects."

Hazel Eddy, Trusts and Foundations Manager, Re-Engage said: “National Highways’ donation will truly make a difference in helping us support people aged 75 and older living in Thurrock who are lonely, socially isolated and in need of companionship.

“Sadly, the cost-of-living crisis is forcing many older people to stop accessing social opportunities and with no means of increasing their income, our free services will be more important than ever. This funding means that our staff and volunteers will be able to show older people that they are not alone.”

Lizzy Pratt, Head of Business Support, the Cyclopark Charity Trust, said: "Cyclopark are extremely appreciative of the funding from National Highways. As a charity, this financial support will allow us to build a new cycling Skills Zone that will be accessible for the whole community to enjoy, progress and benefit from."

Dave Parnell, Thames and Medway Canal Association said: “The grant could not have come at a better time as our work is steadily increasing and an established base near to where we work is very important. The grant will be put towards a cabin suitable to house both us and our equipment sited on a small area of grass next to the canal and will remind all who pass of our presence. To now have adequate funds to enable us to establish this new HQ with suitable facilities in a few weeks’ time is a really exciting prospect and will give us a huge boost to feel that our work is appreciated and rewarded by others.”

Between 2020 and 2025 the Lower Thames Crossing is investing more than £30 million in projects across the region and has recently funded projects including high-speed broadband in South Ockendon, supporting Essex Wildlife Trust projects to create new habitats in Thurrock; restoring heritage features in Dagnam Park and Warley Place, Brentwood; and supporting RSPB environmental enhancements at Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve.

The funding is provided through National Highway’s dedicated programme of investment that provides community and environmental benefits beyond the traditional focus of roads investment and day-to-day running of the road network. The funding is sperate from the Lower Thames Crossing’s core project budget, which is subject to government approval.

The Lower Thames Crossing is designed to ease capacity on the Dartford Crossing – one of the UK’s most strategically important roads but also one of the most congested – by taking around 13 million vehicles off it each year. It would almost double road capacity over the Thames east of London and give the UK economy a boost by creating an additional free-flowing route between the area’s ports, distribution hubs and manufacturing centres.

The project submitted its planning application in late 2022, and the detailed examination of the proposals by the Government’s independent planning experts, the Planning Inspectorate, will begin on 20 June 2023. The examination period is expected to take 6 months before a recommendation on whether to grant a Development Consent Order is made to the Secretary of State for Transport. On 9 March 2023 in a Written Ministerial Statement, the Government set out its commitment to the project and a plan to rephase construction by two years.

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