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The proposed Channel Tunnel Rail Link could change the pattern of new housing development in Kent, Terry Hill, tech...
The proposed Channel Tunnel Rail Link could change the pattern of new housing development in Kent, Terry Hill, technical director of Union Railways Ltd (URL) told the National Planning Conference in Bournemouth yesterday.

The new international railway station at Ebbsfleet was likely to act as a magnet to a quarter of the county's required 140,000 new homes by 2016.

This planned development would create massive brown field - or 'white field' - regeneration in the former chalk pits. Next door more than a start had been made at Bluewater Park.

'The 'Locate in Kent' agency reports quantified evidence that significant numbers of French and Belgian companies are relocating to Kent,' said Mr Hill. 'Stories abound about the relative costs of France and the UK, and of French business taking advantage of this.

'UK corporation tax is 31 per cent and falling; France effectively has more than 40 per cent. UK employers' social security contributions are at 10 per cent; the French are at 40 per cent.

'Kent's wages are five per cent below the UK average and 10 per cent below the south east's.

'All cross-Channel players are seeing the opportunities - ferries and Eurotunnel are battling in a growing market. Connex, the Kent train operation company, is offering a cross-Channel ticket from anywhere within its franchise.'

But all this was for the future, and for the moment the government faced a decision.

Following their rejection in January of LCR's request for additional funding, the government had asked LCR to strive for a new financing plan, and was now considering LCR's revised proposals involving Railtrack.

'We keenly await their answer,' Mr Hill added.

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