Thames Estuary "absolutely crucial" to the growth of the South East

by Suruchi Sharma Mon 7 October 2019, 4:00 pm

Lord Kerslake has described the growth of the Thames Estuary as "absolutely crucial" and said a "collaborative partnership" is needed to bring the area's potential to fruition.

He was speaking as part of a panel discussion on delivery at the third Thames Estuary Growth Day event last week (3 October).

This part of the one-day event including Councillor Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, interviewing Lord Bob Kerslake, chairman of Peabody and BeFirst and Tony Pidgley CBE, chairman of the Berkeley Group.

They talked about the barriers facing development and the important next steps to take in the region, covering topics including the importance of creating a community at new schemes, Crossrail and regeneration versus gentrification.

The annual occasion held at CentrEd at London’s ExCeL Centre in Newham, chaired by BBC News home editor Mark Easton, gave delegates from local authorities, consultants and developers the chance to hear experts speak on the region’s progress and future plans.

Lord Kerslake said: “The kind of job we’re trying to do in the Thames Estuary is absolutely one that requires a different model of delivery. It can’t be dictated by central or local government, it has to be a collaborative partnership founded on excellent leadership.

“The reason why I’ve been fascinated by the Estuary is because I see it as massively important to the future wellbeing of the South East of this country – and that is in turn is important to the rest of the country.

“London is moving eastwards and it has been for a long time. There is a huge task to harness the growth and development opportunities of London, and that means the Estuary is absolutely crucial.”

Last year the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission report highlighted that one million homes and 1.3 million jobs could be generated in the area.

Lord Kerslake added: “We desperately need long-term thinking and collaboration in this country at the moment. Why do I think its potential is different? This feels more bottom-up, collaborative and more locally-led.

“This is different and it has the ability to bring everybody on side in a way that we didn’t achieve last time. Secondly, the importance of the Thames Estuary is now much more clearly recognised. It’s absolutely clear to me that it is absolutely vital to the future wellbeing of London and the South East.

“The third thing is we can now see real things happening, as it felt a bit theoretical when we were doing it. I think now you can see the sense of which big things are happening.”

Pidgley said: “I think the Thames Estuary is a big challenge and everybody in this room would accept that. You do go back to what we’re trying to achieve, what the Thames Estuary can offer the country, where the natural expansion is. That comes back to getting that co-operation between the local authorities, working together and understanding the challenges.

“The local authorities responsible for that area have to take the initiative and start moving it forward and talking to people to make sure it doesn’t stall.”

Cllr Rodwell at the end of the session added: “I personally believe that the Thames Estuary has turned a massive corner, from the time when I first became leader four years ago to where we are today.”

Sponsors for this year’s Thames Estuary Growth Day event included the Berkeley Group, Countryside, Estates & Agency Group, Glenny, L&Q, London City Airport, Port of London Authority and Weston Homes.

The event was organised and run by regeneration specialist 3Fox International. To learn more about the company’s work in events head to: www.3foxinternational.com/events

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