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Crossrail Woolwich deadline under threat

Deadlines are looming for construction of the £100 million Crossrail station at Woolwich as the funding impasse over the fit-out threatens to scupper its 2018 opening.

Berkeley Homes, which is funding the station box, has acknowledged the station might not be ready in time to open in May 2018. It has urged the Department for Transport and Greenwich Council to press for more inventive funding streams.

John Anderson, chairman of Berkeley Homes Urban Renaissance which is developing the Royal Arsenal site where the proposed station will be, said he believed the scheme would happen in time but insisted his company would make no more cash available for the project.

Instead he proposed a range of funding options that put the onus onto the Department for Transport and Greenwich Council.

Woolwich station, which has been part-funded by a developer in a similar manner to the one at Canary Wharf, is the final unfunded part of the new line.

A Department for Transport spokesman said there would be no additional public cash made available to complete the project.

Mr Anderson said he believes there is ‘wiggle room’ on this pledge by diverting savings accrued on the rest of the line.

A 2007 agreement between Berkeley Homes, Greenwich Council, the DfT, and Transport for London began to unravel in 2009, when the developer pulled back from meeting the total construction cost.

In February 2011 the stakeholders reached a compromise in which the developer would pay for the station box and lead discussions for funding the fit-out.

In a statement to Parliament, then transport secretary Philip Hammond ruled out spending more public money and said the fit-out was “conditional on receiving sufficient funding contributions from developers and businesses in the area”.

Greenwich Council chiefs refused to be interviewed on the subject, only issuing a statement saying negotiations were ongoing.

Canary Wharf, part-funded by the Canary Wharf Group, is due to become the first station to be completed, with the box delivered this summer.

The box for Woolwich will be completed in the summer of 2013. Mr Anderson said: “Of course, it could be fitted out any time after that but it would be cheaper to do it straight away,” he said.

A Crossrail spokesman said the designs for the station will not be finalised until the end of 2012, making procurement tight for a 2013 summer start.

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