Almost £5m is set to be tipped into an extensive new study looking at a public transport overhaul from Bexley across the Kent border, in a bid to provide better links to jobs and the city as the area faces a future housing and regeneration boom.

The Ministry for Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) have tipped in £4.85m for the 15-month study, which Bexley Council announced on Monday had been launched.

The study will analyse transport options on the corridor between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet, and will include feedback from Bexley Council, as well as Kent County Council and local authorities at Dartford  and Gravesham.

Bexley Council leader Teresa O’Neill, who also chairs the Partnerships Local Authority Board, said the commencement of the study was “a big step forward”.

“This is a really exciting moment for all those who have been pushing for improved public transport in this area and across the Thames Estuary for so long,” Cllr O’Neill said.

“We know that to get good growth you need to better connect people to jobs and services both locally and in the wider area. This study is a big step forward in understanding how we do that in a deliverable way that makes sense in a post Covid 19 world.

Cllr O’Neill acknowledged there was “a lot of uncertainty at the moment” about the future of public transport and cities.

“However, we are clear that there remains an imperative to bring forward new, high quality homes and jobs which can be accessed in safe, sustainable ways,” she said.

The work will be overseen by the C2E Partnership, comprising the various councils, the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, The Thames Gateway Kent Partnership, the Greater London Authority and Network Rail.

Lead consultants in the study will be Atkins/Jacobs, who will undertake the transport and growth analysis, and KPMG, who will consider funding and finance options for any scheme.

The news comes at a time when the coronavirus pandemic threw several south-east London transport initiatives into disarray.

Transport for London is currently hashing out a deal with the Government to secure long-term funding after their finances were smashed by the pandemic.

Until that time, planned projects remain in jeopardy.

Last month it was revealed a planned extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Thamesmead could be axed due to TfL’s financial plight.

The future of another south-east project, the extension of the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham and potentially beyond to Bromley, is also unsure.

In addition, the Crossrail project which would link to Abbey Wood is also unlikely to be finished until 2022 – three years behind schedule.