Extending Crossrail through Bexley should unlock vital new affordable homes, a top councillor has said.

It comes following a government boost of £4.8m to look into developing the route, which is currently only scheduled to go as far as Abbey Wood.

Bexley Council has been at the centre of campaigning for the much-anticipated railway to be brought through the borough.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, April 9, councillors were given an update on the major infrastructure projects.

Cabinet member for communities, Alex Sawyer, said Crossrail would unlock vital new affordable homes as people are currently working three jobs to afford their rent.

He said: “Crossrail will bring benefits that will outlive all of us. It will open opportunities not just in the UK economy, but globally too when we consider that Paris will be two-and-a-quarter hours from Abbey Wood.

“Improved transport links will facilitate our growth strategy and support improved opportunities for housing, but it must be housing that it is right for this borough.

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“As the member responsible I hope expect and believe that affordable rented accommodation can be provided in greater numbers.

“There are many hardworking, decent law-abiding residents struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

“My postbag tells me many of those are having to have second or third jobs to top up, in some cases their benefits, to make sure their rent is paid.

“It is vital our future housing plans feature a mix of what is required and necessary, so our residents can be proud to call Bexley home.”

The benefits of extending Crossrail was noted by the Thames Estuary Growth Commission, which recommended the government support the project.

Funding to develop the business case will be controlled by the council, on behalf of the Crossrail 2 Ebbsfleet Alliance.

Teresa O’Neill, the leader of the council, said: “It’s been a long time getting to this point – four or five years of really hard work.

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“For Bexley to be side by side with Kent County Council is really important, we have really punched above our weight with this one.”

Once it eventually opens, Crossrail will connect Abbey Wood to central London in just 17 minutes.

MP for Erith and Thamesmead Teresa Pearce last week dubbed the botched opening of the service “mismanagement on an epic scale.”