THE Croxley Rail Link project will be completed in 2018 and the Chancellor has said it “will have real benefits for people living in and around Watford”.

The scheme, which Government documents show will cost £284.4 million, was given the green light on Tuesday morning and trains will be running in 2018, Watford’s mayor has confirmed.

Government documents seen by the Watford Observer indicate the Government will be spending £109.67 million on the project.

The documents, which were formally approved by Chancellor George Osborne in Wednesday’s Budget added: “The scheme lies at the heart of Watford’s growth plans- with the borough council’s Local Plan focusing on sites connected to the scheme.

“The plan identifies six ‘special policy areas’ for housing and commercial development, five of which are served by the Rail Link.”

The Croxley Rail Link is expected to boost Charter Place, Watford Junction, the proposed health campus scheme, Croxley Green Business Park and development in West Watford.

The rail provider had been asked to take on an “enhanced role” in the scheme, which will see the Metropolitan Line extended from Croxley to Watford Junction via Watford High Street and two new stations.

The Chancellor said: “The Croxley Rail Link will open up new economic opportunities that will have real benefits for people living in and around Watford. Investment like this in Watford is possible because of the Conservatives’ Long Term Economic plan.

Richard Harrington’s hard work as a Conservative MP ensured I was aware of this project and its importance to the area.”

A letter seen by the Watford Observer from Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, to Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, states the “total scheme cost budget is £284.4 million and up until very recently the scheme was facing a funding gap of £50 million”.

The letter added Transport for London will take over management and delivery of the scheme “on the understanding” TfL will contribute £16 million and the Department for Transport will contribute “the remaining £34 million”.

The Government cash will come from the department’s underspend in 2014/2015.

The letter added: “In order to take on the scheme, TfL will also need HM Treasury approval to increase their borrowing limit by £30.5 million.”

Rob Flavelle, senior asset manager at Threadneedle, which runs Croxley Green Business Park said: “This massively changes the prospects for future development and growth of Croxley Green Business Park and its community.

“As location and transport connectivity forms the basis of most business relocation decisions, we expect to see an increase in businesses attracted to the park, and a rise in larger London-based businesses seeking an alternative to the high-rent and overcrowding issues of the city. We have seen more business owners de-risk by moving out of central office blocks that have potential for residential conversions under permitted development rights.

“Wednesday’s confirmation of funding approval for the Croxley Rail Link, an extension of the Metropolitan line, is an exciting opportunity for people in and living around Watford, along with those working in the area.”

Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill said: “The link has been a priority throughout my time as mayor, and I am pleased the main construction will start this autumn, with the first trains due in 2018. I’ve always been clear the Croxley Rail Link is a transformational project for the town, and absolutely critical to unlocking Watford’s future economic potential.”