This article originally appeared in the Herald Newspaper on 17th July 2019.
Businesses, local authorities’ representatives and transport officials joined me this week as I attended the official opening of a new multi-storey car park at Didcot Parkway Station; a development that will help to unlock significant economic opportunities across the south of the county.
The project was delivered by Great Western Railway and Network Rail and includes the construction of a deck access car park, situated on the Foxhall Road site. The station now has 1,800 spaces in total, a parking capacity increase of 65 per cent.
The development has been part-funded by the government’s Local Growth Fund, with the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) helping to secure £9.5m from the national fund. The overall cost of the project was £23m.
OxLEP is one of 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England playing a key role in driving forward economic growth and, by 2021, it’s expected that central Government will have invested over £12bn into the UK economy via the Local Growth Fund.
The Growth Fund investment aims to allow LEPs to use their local knowledge to promote growth in their individual regions. Analysis has shown that for every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested, £4.81 in benefits could be generated.
Since its inception in 2011, OxLEP, alongside its partners, has secured over £650m-worth of government funding for Oxfordshire, which has seen more than 50,000 new jobs created in the county between 2012 and 2017.
In total, OxLEP currently oversees a £2.2bn growth programme for the county.
I echo the comments of Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP, who said: “The completion of such a significant project, that will have a positive impact on commuters’ travel experiences is excellent news. As the local enterprise partnership for Oxfordshire, we want to ensure our county benefits from an infrastructure that is fit-for-purpose, supporting dynamic economic growth.”
He also went on to say; “Assets such as Milton Park, Harwell Campus and Culham Science Centre, all a short distance away from Didcot Parkway, are vital not just for the Oxfordshire economy, but nationally too as we move towards a more ‘globally-facing’ economy, therefore, this development will help to unlock further opportunities, many of international significance.”
I am sure everyone travelling through Didcot and living or working in and around it, will join me in welcoming the new carpark, and the economic and travel benefits that it will bring to the surrounding communities and businesses, not least to the major science and business centres like Harwell and Milton Park, leading the way in ground-breaking research not only in South Oxfordshire, but nationally as well.