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It's the name for Blue Circle's green fields developernent for a strategically sited distribution centre in Kent with its own ferry terminal. Bob Greenwood reports
DRIVERS delayed by extensive roadworks and the building of a new toll booth plaza as they approach the Dartford Tunnel on the Kent side will soon start to notice yet more construction getting underway. Just yards away to the right industrial buildings will be going up in what will be one of the largest, most flexible and strategically located distribution centres in Britain.
The project, announced in April this year, is called Crossways 25. It is being developed by Blue Circle on a 300-acre site which was once rough farmland partly occupied by a now demolished cement works operated by the group. Work has started on levelling the ground and land reclamation.
The land forms a neat triangle bounded to the north west by the M25 London orbital motorway, to the south by the North Kent Railway, and to the north east by the River Thames. At the western corner of the development is Junction One of the motorway, on to which the site will have direct access. The advantage of the proposed business park's location in relation to the road system need hardly be emphasised. Once the M25 is complete, companies using the site will be only 18 miles from central London and have easy access to any of the 10 arterial roads and motorway's radiating from it to all parts of the country. .
Links with other transport modes will be equally good. Blue Circle is "actively considering" the need for a spur from the railway line which forms the Crossways site's southern boundary and is keen to talk to companies that would be interested in such a facility.
The third transport mode with which the project is concerned is waterborne. Blue Circle is promoting the development of DIET — the Dartford International Ferry Terminal, which would provide freight services to near European and Scandinavian ports. The company has yet to sign up an operator for the projected roll-on/roll-off terminal, but a company spokesman said that "negotiations are at a very advanced stage and an announcement is expected very shortly about the start of that development."
Interest in adjacent sites on the Crossways development is also said to be considerable. "Even before advertising the project we had 50 serious inquiries," said the spokesman. He added: "Active negotiations are now in progress."
For prospective customers there are several development options. Fully serviced sites are available on long leases, either as leasehold purchases or on a ground rental basis, so that companies can carry out their own developments.
Alternatively, a purpose-built unit can be designed to companies' requirements and either sold or leased on completion. Speculative units are under consideration also.
Summing up reaction so far to the Crossways 25 project, Blue Circle's property development manager, Tony Every-Brown, commented: "We have had a great deal of support from local authorities and the community generally and we expect their enthusiasm to be rewarded by a development which makes a very significant contribution to the local and regional economies."