Lord Heseltine: Thames Estuary plan to unleash growth for decades to come

World-leading experts from across business and government launch a Thames Estuary growth plan.

World-leading experts from across business and government are today (14 July 2016) launching a Thames Estuary growth plan, to boost productivity, attract and retain skilled workers and capitalise on major infrastructure works.

The ‘Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission’ to be unveiled at an event at the Queen Elizabeth II Park, promises to put in place a vision which will “unleash growth for decades to come”.

The Commission led by Lord Heseltine – the architect of some of Britain’s most successful regeneration projects like London Docklands and Liverpool city centre – will consult with businesses and others before submitting their plans to the Chancellor ahead of the Autumn Statement 2017.

Lord Heseltine will say:

This government is determined to ensure every part of the country benefits from a growing economy and all the evidence suggests that the Thames Estuary has incredible economic potential.

This Commission presents a wonderful opportunity, not only to make the most of plans already afoot, but to look beyond that and forge ahead with a vision to unleash growth for decades to come.

We have brought together world-leading industry experts and would urge others with an interest in the region and good ideas to now come forward and contribute.

A brave new world

The Thames Estuary region stretches 40 miles from Canary Wharf in London to Southend in Essex and Thanet in Kent. With a population of more than 3 million its unique location and potential means it is a long-term national priority for growth.

The government and private investors are already making substantial investments in to support this Estuary grow including:

  • £300 million for the development of new homes and jobs at the new garden city, Ebbsfleet
  • £1.5 billion of private investment into creating a world-leading London Gateway Port, which could create up to 12,000 direct jobs and a further 30,000 indirect jobs
  • the expansion of Southend Airport from fewer than 5,000 passengers a year to more than a million
  • the planned Lower Thames Crossing

But to build on this, in the Budget 2016 the Chancellor announced that a new Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission would be formed to take that investment to another level – to create jobs and opportunity along the mouth of the Thames Estuary for decades to come. Now a team of 17 world-leading experts have been brought together to set out how to make this vision a reality.

The Commission’s initial work will focus on 6 workstreams:

  1. Creating high productivity clusters
  2. Increasing connectivity
  3. Creating new homes and communities
  4. Securing investment
  5. Harnessing innovation in the built environment
  6. Putting it together: centres of excellence

The Commission will take account of major projects and current industry planning processes involving a range of organisations, including but not limited to Highways England, Network Rail, Transport for London, local government and the Local Enterprise Partnerships.

The Commission will not, however, seek to re-open or delay existing work being undertaken by any of the above. Instead it will look at how to make the most of these opportunities, including what related infrastructure may be required to accelerate growth.

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