Why has it taken 23 Years to get a proper Strategy for the Thames Gateway

DCLG Thames Estuary Growth Commission

The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission (“the Commission”) was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March 2016. The members of the Commission are:

o Rt Hon Lord Heseltine CH (Chair), Government Advisor on Local Growth o Lord Adonis, Chairman, National Infrastructure Commission

o Sir John Armitt, President, Institute of Civil Engineers

o Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

o Lord Foster, Chairman and Founder, Foster + Partners

o Rt Hon Mark Francois MP, Minister for the Thames Gateway o Prof. Alice Gast, President, Imperial College

o Gregory Hodkinson, Chairman, Arup Group

o Sir George Iacobescu, Chairman and Chief Executive, Canary Wharf Group o Prof. Dr Uwe Krueger, Chief Executive, Atkins

o Sir Stuart Lipton, Partner, Lipton Rogers Developments LLP o Sir Edward Lister, Chairman, Homes and Communities Agency

o Sadie Morgan, Director, drmm Architects o Lord O’Neill, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury

o Tony Pidgley, Group Chairman, Berkeley Group o Nicola Shaw, Executive Director UK, National Grid

o Geoffrey Spence, Global Head of Infrastructure, Resources and Energy, Lloyds Bank

2. Budget 2016 announced that the Commission would “develop an ambitious vision and delivery plan for North Kent, South Essex and East London up to 2050. This will focus on supporting the development of high productivity clusters in specific locations. It will examine how the area can develop, attract and retain skilled workers. It will also look at how to make the most of opportunities from planned infrastructure such as the Lower Thames Crossing.” 3. The Commission will, by March 2017, produce an interim report setting out its vision for the region. It will then report back to the Chancellor by Autumn Statement 2017 with a clear and affordable delivery plan for achieving its vision.

The Thames Gateway concept was first launched by Micheal Hesiltine in 1993.  PRG9a The Thames Gateway Planning Framework was launched in 1995. This was merged into the South East plan in 2009 which was then abolished in the localism act.  There was a Thames Gateway Delivery Plan in 2007 but it wasn’t a strategy, just a collation of existing sectoral projects.

There is therefore a considerable sense of deja vu about this relaunch.  About the failure over 23 years to properly align infrastructure plans with public spending.  The DCLG seems to be following its latest mean trick, expecting consultants to give their ideas and expertise for free on a board and have a call for ideas without actually dipping into pocked to commission technical work on updating existing plans.

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