Planning and Housing

11.06.19

Thurrock Council: A council that gets business, does business and means business

Source: PSE June/July 2019

Thurrock Council’s chief executive, Lyn Carpenter, discusses an exciting new £1bn regeneration scheme on the River Thames and its importance in setting the template for high quality, community-driven and infrastructure-led growth.

Thurrock is one of the largest growth areas in the UK and has major regeneration projects centred around six growth hubs that are set to create 24,500 new jobs. I am delighted proposals for one of those growth hubs – transforming predominately brownfield sites in Purfleet into a new community and world class creative hub – have now taken a giant step forward after being granted outline planning permission.

The plans for the 58 hectares scheme, which is expected to create around 2,200 new jobs, have been designed in close partnership with the community and include a new town centre, shops and restaurants, a media village, medical centre, new primary school, improved transport infrastructure and 2,850 new homes. With a first reserved matters planning application for 61 homes already submitted and expected to be determined this summer, the proposals will now begin to move forward at pace.

Being granted outline consent is a hugely important milestone, not only for the scheme, but for our wider ambitions to unlock the borough’s potential through high quality, community-driven and infrastructure-led development, while protecting and enhancing our existing communities. The project, which is being delivered by Purfleet Centre Regeneration Ltd (PCRL) in close partnership with us, has been in the pipeline for a while and it is great to see our aspirations now beginning to come to fruition.

Collaboration has been right at the heart of the project. We signed a development agreement with PCRL back in February 2016, and have worked closely with them ever since. Community engagement has been vital, with a resident-led Purfleet Community Design Panel formed and the Purfleet Community Forum involved every step of the way.

While a significant majority of the housing required in Thurrock is due to the growth of existing communities, we recognise that the need for 30,000 new homes in the borough will be of concern to some of our residents. That is why we are placing the community at the very heart of our growth ambitions, and involving them in designing and shaping how the borough grows.

Another thing we pride ourselves on is our infrastructure-first approach, which is very important to existing communities, as well as businesses, and will now set the template for future major developments. As we are seeing with the proposals for Purfleet, which include significant transport, education and health infrastructure improvements, we are demanding high quality growth that enhances the borough, creates great places – both new and existing – and provides the housing and infrastructure that our communities deserve.

For instance, together with our partners, we are investing more than £70m to create over 3,500 new school places across the borough over the coming years, and we also have ambitious plans for four new integrated medical centres.

With all major schemes, it is about how we enhance the borough for today’s residents and provide modern, well thought-out solutions to the 21st century challenges that we face. By working closely with partners, developers and investors, we have the exciting opportunity to create a borough where people of all ages can achieve their aspirations, and are proud to work and play, live and stay.

Having achieved a balanced budget for the next four years and a surplus of £16m, no other top tier local authority is in as secure a financial position as we are, and this gives us the opportunity to invest more money in vital services and to do things differently. We are setting the standard for others to follow and laying the foundations for future growth with our own ambitious £575m programme of capital projects over the next three years.

Our £79m project to widen the A13, which is one of the largest local authority-managed road schemes in the country, is just one example and will create a continuous three-lane road in both directions between the M25 and Europe’s most modern container port at DP World London Gateway. The A13 corridor is a vital part of the transport network and the project will boost the economy, helping businesses to increase productivity, reduce costs and create more jobs. That joined-up thinking, the benefits for private sector businesses and our relationships with them, are all really important to us and illustrate we’re a council that gets business, does business and means business.

Our capital investment in infrastructure is not just important for our residents. For those unfamiliar with Thurrock, the borough is located immediately to the east of the capital, at the dynamic heart of the Thames Estuary. It boasts 18 miles of Thames riverfront and three international ports, which together account for 85% of the Port of London’s trade.

The infrastructure we’ve got here in Thurrock is not only important to the Thames Estuary and London, but to the rest of the UK and its economy. With £20bn of investment in new jobs, homes and infrastructure already planned and 1,000 acres of land ready for business development, Thurrock’s importance will only grow.

We also have an eye on the longer term. Having completed a call for sites, and issues and options (stage two) consultation, we are progressing well with our new Local Plan which will help us shape any future growth and development. We are all incredibly excited by the sheer scale of what is happening here, not least in Purfleet, and you can certainly expect to hear lots more about Thurrock in the months and years to come.

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