Government Responds to Thames Estuary Growth Commission Report


we are now looking to local partners; from local authorities, Local Enterprise
Partnerships, universities, businesses and civil society, to realise this vision and see the Thames Estuary stepping up to deliver well-balanced, inclusive growth on a scale
comparable to the Midlands Engine, Northern Powerhouse and Oxford-Cambridge Arc

James Brokenshire

In same breath, one more step closer to national planning.

It commits to a strategic Thames Estuary Growth Board and a ministerial champion.

We are publicly committing to exploring the potential for at least two new locally-led development corporations in the Thames Estuary. We will work collaboratively with places to create thriving communities where people want to live and work, to deliver high-quality, popular and well-designed places to live.

I know of two areas in South Essex that have been exploring this.

The government announced at Budget 2018 that it is supporting a study to develop
options and consult the local area on a Great Thames Park.15 This forthcoming natural capital analysis will assess the options to maximise the socio-economic and cultural value of the area’s natural assets, including creating a park for communities to enjoy.
We also recognise the importance of showcasing the many benefits of natural capital to the community and making sure that all developments deliver environmental net gain.

It rights rules out a Lower Thames Barrier

Thames East Line
The Commission set out how government should consider a multi-modal crossing as
part of its planning for the next Thames Barrier.
We support maximising benefits from large-scale infrastructure and recognise that
consideration of a multi-modal replacement Thames Barrier brings opportunities.
However, the location proposed by the Commission is not one the Environment Agency would currently consider due to extensive investigations of navigation, flood risk, existing infrastructure, and environmental requirements which limit the feasible locations for areplacement barrier to two sites.
Based on current sea level rise estimates, the Environment Agency expect a future
barrier would need to be operational by 2070. Delivering a replacement Thames Barrier by 2050 is significantly earlier than the timeframe set out in the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan and is not supported by the current business case for the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan. This remains subject to regular review by the Environment Agency.

But no consideration of a more feasible Kent-Essex Link perhaps tunneled parallel to the Lower Thames Crossing.

How much overspill from London – a total fudge.

Government expects all local authorities to plan for the number of homes required to meet need in their area. We would encourage cooperation between the London boroughs and neighbouring authorities in Kent and Essex and welcome further engagement with those places, including with groups of London boroughs, in exploring how we might support them to plan for and deliver significant increases in the provision of homes.

On joint Spatial Plans

Government welcomes the Commission’s recommendations in encouraging more joint
planning between local authorities in Kent and in Essex. The government welcomes
joint planning to help coordinate solutions to cross-boundary issues, to use strategic
level planning to meet the national challenge of delivering more homes in a more
integrated way, whilst also grasping the opportunity to use precious resources more
efficiently in the process. To achieve this, we have strengthened the National Planning
Policy Framework to emphasise greater cooperation between local authorities and
outlined our ambitions to encourage more joint planning, particularly through work on
housing deals.
We recognise that in some places across the Estuary, this is already happening and
are encouraged by progress in South Essex, wherein six local planning authorities and Essex County Council have agreed to produce a Joint Statutory Spatial Plan. The joint planning work being undertaken by the Estuary partners in South Essex is moving
forward at an ambitious pace, with a statement of common ground and revised Local Development Schemes for each of the authorities. The Joint Statutory Spatial Plan will set out the areas overarching spatial strategy, housing target and distribution, strategic development and employment opportunity areas and key transport and other infrastructure priorities. Along with housing and employment, the Joint Statutory Spatial Plan aims to plan for and deliver large scale infrastructure that will permit long term growth for the region.

Geography is not always easily defined across the area outlined in the
Commission’s report. Government supports joint planning arrangements as defined by local partners and stands ready to offer support to places seeking to engage in
developing compelling proposals which support housing growth over the longer term.
These proposals or joint working arrangements should not be limited by the geography of the Estuary and we would encourage cross boundary working.

No its not going well.  Its at least 4 months behind schedule.  The area is densely populated and 100% Green Belt.  The needs can only be me through large new settlements linked to new infrastructure.

On roads

The A127 is a key route for Essex linking London with Basildon and Southend and
Rochford. In Basildon, the A127 corridor is home to one of the largest single
concentrations of advanced manufacturing companies in the South of England. The
corridor makes substantial contributions to the prosperity of the South East Local
Enterprise Partnership area and offers considerable growth prospects. The South East Local Enterprise Partnership has secured over £41 million towards improvements to the road.

This 41 million is just for feasibility work which shows the necessary scale of works needed to the A127, this includes the feasibility of bypassing Basildon to the Noth and bypassing/extending the A127 to the East of Southend/Shoeburyness.

It rejects a Lower Thames Multimodal Crossing

At the scoping stage of the Lower Thames Crossing project, the Department for
Transport re-examined the potential for a multi-modal crossing. We are confident that the project, as currently scoped, is taking forward the best overall option. Transport demands do change over time due to a number of factors such as growth and housing, and as part of normal planning, the Department for Transport continues to look at emerging future transport trends to ensure we have robust strategies and future investment plans in place.
The Commission has also suggested that a future Thames East flood barrier could
provide the opportunity for a multi-modal transport crossing (see section above).
Transport demands do change over time, and as part of normal planning, the
Department for Transport would consider the opportunity for synergy with any identified transport investment needs at the appropriate time. However, the department’s current focus remains on taking forward the Lower Thames Crossing, in line with Highways England’s consultation launched in October 2018. The cost of a new rail link could be expected to be high and any new investment proposal would need to offer value for money and be technically feasible.

This is narrow thinking.  The scoping was well in advance of joint planning and determination of scale of housing need was established.  A multimodal crossing could support 2-4 large garden town developments north and south of the Tames.  Making these road based as opposed to zero carbon would be the greatest missed planning opportunity of the early 21th C.

So overall much the same problems as Thames Gateway a focus on projects rather than joined up land use and transport planning at the strategic scale with opportunities missed for co-planned infrastructure to achievea shift in development forms and transport patterns.  Same old failure, some old reactivity, same old sprawl.