Businesses, local authority representatives and transport officials today (5 July) attended the official opening of a new multi-storey car park at Didcot Parkway Station – a development that can help to ‘unlock’ significant economic opportunities across the south of the county.
The car park – which forms part of a development and improvement programme of the station as a key ‘gateway’ to Science Vale – was officially opened by Didcot and Wantage MP, Ed Vaizey.
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 – in total, the station now has 1,800 spaces, 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 being £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 – with 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.
Minister for Local Growth - Jake Berry MP - said: “This government is committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the UK and building a Britain fit for the future.
“Creating the infrastructure to support transport, people and businesses in all communities is absolutely vital if we want them to grow and thrive which is why the Didcot Station car park, made possible by £9.5 million of Local Growth Fund investment, is so important.
“The station’s new 1,800 capacity multi-storey car park and footbridge will improve the experience for all users of Didcot Parkway station, a key gateway to Science Vale high-tech cluster, and boost local economic growth.”
Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – 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.
“Assets such as Milton Park, Harwell Campus and Culham Science Centre – all a short distance 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.
“Finally, we are delighted to have made full use of such a major Local Growth Fund allocation.”
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood added: “Didcot Parkway is used by over three million customers every year, and offers quick and easy journeys to Oxford, Banbury, Reading and London – making it a key hub.
“In the last year-and-a-half, we have introduced two new fleets of trains for customers travelling from Didcot, increasing the number of seats on board by up to almost 25 per cent, per train.
“This December will also see us deliver the biggest timetable shake-up in over 40 years, providing even more seats and quicker journeys.”
Ed Vaizey MP added: “I am delighted to have been able to open the new car park at Didcot Parkway, built with Growth Fund money allocated by the Government.
“It means that we can now confidently encourage car drivers to switch to greener more environmentally friendly electric rail services, knowing that there will be space in the car park.
“Space that will be matched by more seats and more services when GWR’s new timetable kicks in this December.”