Otterpool Park Update: Westenhanger Station Expansion

They haven’t told them and they haven’t told you, but then again that’s just par for the course.

Once again Folkestone & Hythe District Council have elected to withhold information from Cllrs and the public. What is that information?

The Council has withheld the fact the expansion of Westhanger station is to be funded by them as the developer of Otterpool Park, according to documents released by Network Rail. The Council – as developer – have known they’ll fund the Westenhanger station expansion since the 7th Sept 2018, according to documents released by Network Rail.  How much the expansion will cost is not yet known. Nor is it known if it’ll come out of the £100 million they granted themselves, or whether they need to ask for more as some later date.

Westenhanger Station 1

In July 2019 Kent County Council, Folkestone & Hythe District Council and Network Rail made it clear the expansion would happen in three phases.

Phase 0

Modest improvements to the station [to be delivered before first new housing is completed]   –  Provision of [XX] cycle parking spaces [if outside station lease area might be cheaper for FHDC to deliver themselves] – Provision of a bus stopping facility including raised kerb, clearway and shelter, and modest remodeling of the current forecourt [if outside station lease area might be cheaper for FHDC to deliver themselves] – Ticket purchasing facilities added to the Down (Folkestone bound) platform.

Phase 1

[Substantial improvements to the station after XX housing due to be delivered including access for all]  –  Replace existing Up platform (London bound) of 5 car length with new 12 car length.  –  Up platform opposite existing Down platform, and extend existing Down platform from 8 cars to 12 cars (although this may be too prescriptive and may add in more costs, having the platforms opposite each other will facilitate the new access for all footbridge and lifts from one side of the station to the other).  –  New access for all footbridge and lifts  –  Car parking provision for 270 spaces [previous demand forecasts indicate with high-speed services calling actual parking usage could be lower].  –  Two modest platform shelters equally spaced on both platforms with ATMs on both platforms.  –  Decommission existing 5 car Up platform and access road with existing restricted parking area, and allocate land for further housing development.

Screenshot from 2020-01-26 21-07-17

Phase 2

[Final phase after XX housing delivered]  –  Modest new station building with a waiting room, small ticket office area and staff accommodation with staff and a public toilet. Provision of additional platform shelter on both platforms.

On the 1st Feb 2017  Savills, the Council’s agent to purchase the land at Otterpool, gave a presentation where they stated:

  • When asked about the inclusion of Westenhanger Station on the HS1 route to London, Savills stated that it would be a ‘gamechanger’ for the values.

So it’s essential trains stop at Westenhanger to increase the values of the housing.

On August 18th, 2017 we wrote about the upgrading of Westenhanger Station.

In Oct 2017, Dr. Susan Priest, then the corporate director of strategic development, along with Julia Wallace Project Manager – master planning and design and Rebecca Kearney, Project Manager for Otterpool Park, Arcadis Design and Consultancy attended the Kent Construction Expo.

Dr. Priest said the Otterpool team made the case for a stop as part of a bid for up to £281 million housing infrastructure fund bid; which we know they failed to secure.

She told delegates at the Construction Expo conference in Detling that this was “one of the top priorities of the council” and that the bid included “specific allocation for station enhancements”.

She said: “There is a real willingness from the council to make sure this is delivered. I think we are being listened to in terms of Network Rail and the station enhancements.

The bids are about how the government can provide regeneration money to stimulate the provision of early infrastructure that will give confidence to the market.

So what with the failure to secure the £281 million housing infrastructure money, the Council will no doubt have to borrow this. It will not be cheap. No doubt John Bunnett as the developer side of the Council may well have to come back to full council cap in hand asking for more money.

Coming back to 2019 Network Rail creates two scenarios for residents from Otterpool Park using trains from Westenhanger. They are the ‘Do Minimum’ scenario against the ‘Do Something’ scenario.

  • The ‘Do Minimum’ case already contains the growth in Otterpool Park residents. The demand forecasting report assumes that 6.0% of residents in any given year would commute to London.

  • The ‘Do Something’ case, Network Rail assumes that 11.5% of workers would commute to London from Otterpool.

As such these forecasts imply the rest of the occupants of Otterpool Park, 88.5%, will be employed locally/within Kent. Where these jobs will come from is not known.

We have provided just some of the information released by Network Rail regarding the upgrading of Westenhanger. After we have spoken to rail experts we’ll bring you another update.

The Shepwayvox Team

Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful

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3 Comments on Otterpool Park Update: Westenhanger Station Expansion

  1. Thanks for this excellent reporting. But, what about what was reported in the press below? Are there plans to extend the highspeed services to accomodate this expected new load? See

  2. doggerbank56 // January 27, 2020 at 12:32 // Reply

    I would have thought that the proportion of workers commuting to London would be much higher than the two scenarios detailed above. I suggest you find out how many Ashford residents commute to London by way of comparison. I suspect Otterpool will be marketed as a suitable commuting location particularly if High Speed trains choose to stop there.

    • Doggerbank 56, You must be correct in your assumption that passenger numbers are understated. Otterpool has already been touted as a commuter town. Locals will be unable to afford to live there leaving sales to City workers being paramount. Your suggestion to compare commuting numbers from Ashford will probably cause the odd heart attack in certain quarters.

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