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27/06/2018

A million homes needed to support Thames Estuary growth, report claims

Words: Laura Edgar
Thames Estuary / Shutterstock

The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission has proposed that one million homes will be required by 2050 in the Thames Estuary to support its growth, while 1.3 million new jobs could be created.

According to analysis by the commission, the Thames Estuary could generate an additional £190 billion of gross value added (GVA).

It envisions the area as a “series of interconnected places” that are also “distinctive”.

To guarantee that new homes and jobs are delivered, the commission calls for infrastructure investment to be a priority. It recommends that Crossrail should be extended to Ebbsfleet, which could support up to 50,000 jobs and 55,000 new homes.

Additionally, investment in and delivery of green infrastructure will be “key to securing good growth’. This includes establishing a Great Thames Park to maximise the value of the area’s natural assets.

Better use can be made of existing infrastructure capacity, while currently planned road and rail infrastructure should be delivered to improve “intra-town connectivity”.

Under the plans, Basildon, Castle Point and Southend will also see redevelopment take place, with a new medical research corridor connecting the Francis Crick Institute through Chatham to Canterbury.

Statutory joint spatial plans should be delivered in Kent and Essex to empower “ambitious” local authorities to deliver housing at scale and pace, the report recommemds.

The commission hopes that by 2050, the Thames Estuary will be a “tapestry of productive places along a global river”.

Sir John Armitt, chair of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, said: “Without concerted action, there is a risk that the Thames Estuary will fail to achieve its potential, at huge opportunity cost to local communities and the national economy.

“The resounding message from the consultation that the commission has undertaken is that there is ambition in the Thames Estuary to deliver high-quality development and the best economic outcomes for people.

“However, a ‘business as usual’ approach will not deliver growth at scale and pace; governance reform and new delivery models are needed.”

Professor Sadie Morgan, deputy chair of the commission, added that the plan “reflects the interconnected, but distinct places that make up the Estuary, and is rooted in the ideas and priorities of its communities and leaders”.

Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire noted that the Thames Estuary has “enormous untapped potential”. He said the government would consider the commission’s proposals and respond “in due course”.

The 2050 Vision report can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).

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