Former deputy prime minister to spearhead Thames Estuary development
PUBLISHED: 16:11 21 March 2016
The announcement was made during the chancellor's budget last week
The former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has been chosen to lead and establish a commission for growth in the Thames Estuary and surrounding areas.
The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission is expected to bring new infrastructure to help develop housing in areas of north Kent, south Essex and east London.
The news has been welcomed by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP) as it pointed out some of the key economic drivers for the commission.
These included London Paramount Park, the north Kent innovation zone and Ebbsfleet Garden City.
Acting chair of SE LEP George Kieffer said: “There is nobody better qualified in the context of both the Thames Gateway and regeneration than Lord Heseltine.
“The economy of the Thames estuary is integral to the long-term prosperity of the UK, thanks to its ports and trade links to mainland Europe.
“The timing of the commission’s announcement sends a positive message to everybody in the area that the government is committed to ensuring communities east of London realise their full economic and social potential.”
The announcement was praised by the leader of Bexley council, Teresa O’Neill.
She said: “I am delighted that Lord Heseltine has taken on this important role, because he has been to Bexley and understands the issues we face.
“He has done more than any other politician to modernise the country’s infrastructure and to improve our cities.
“Successive governments have talked about the potential for grwoth in the Thames Gateway, but the investment in infrastructure we need to make this happen is yet to materialise.”
Rob Bennett, chairman of the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership further supported Lord Heseltine’s appointment.
He said: “In the north Kent part of the gateway alone we estimate there is scope to deliver an additional 58,000 homes and 59,000 jobs.
“But for those new homes and jobs to be provided we need to find ways of securing new investmen, especially in transport infrastructure.
As the commission is established, it will report back at Autumn Statement 2017 with an outline for planned developments.