Posted: 30.06.20 at 21:54 by The Editor
THURRCK councillors will be asked next week to give their nod of approval to a massive new redevelopment of Grays High Street, including a new underpass that will replace the current rail crossing close to Grays station.
Members of the council’s Planning, Transport Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be asked on Monday to support a preferred option from three put forward by design consultants as the council seeks to open up Grays station as part of a huge town centre regeneration project.
The development plan is in addition to the council’s own controversial multi-million pound redevelopment of the civic offices.
Monday’s meeting will see three options put before councillors for the underpass scheme – with one being recommended for approval, albeit on the back of a lukewarm reception from local people in a consultation process.
The Transforming Grays project launched by the council last year attracted 1,200 visitors to the online portal and but only 89 provided feedback. Of those, 81 people supported option C.
That has prompted the council to go for the option but one slight snag might be that the exact costing of the project is as yet unknown. None of the documents put in the public domain mention a price – but the preferred Option C does come with a warning from its designers that it is likely to cost more than the initial budget put forward for the regeneration.
The designers have not provided costs for works included in ‘Option C’ as they are 'outside the project boundary' but says they should be a key consideration in the total costs required to deliver the scheme.
However, Thurrock Council has previously expressed confidence in being able to fully fund the project and in March this year Cllr Mark Coxshall, the portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “Grays is an important town centre with a key role in the borough’s economy which boasts tremendous opportunities for investment and regeneration.
“Grays has been successful in the first round of bids for the government’s Future High Street Fund and there is already £200 million in investment secured including an underpass at Grays Station, which has received £11 million funding through the Local Growth Fund.”
The advocates for option C, which is known as the Plaza Option, say it provides the opportunity for clear south facing views up towards the Church.
It offers “simple linear slopes delineate a rectilinear new plaza to create a neat and organised space that sits comfortably in its surroundings.”
And the new plaza “creates a clear connection between the station, church and High Street, with the potential to enhance the character of all of these spaces.”
Whichever scheme is selected will see a dramatic change in the local landscape including the demolition of building that currently include takeaway food outlets, a convenience store and a launderette.