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The Thames Gateway is an area of land stretching 40 miles (60 km) east from inner East Londonmarker on both sides of the River Thames and the Thames Estuarymarker. The area, which includes much brownfield land, has been designated a national priority for urban regeneration, taking advantage of the development opportunities realised by the completion of the High Speed 1 (officially known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) rail line. It stretches from Westferry in Tower Hamletsmarker to the Isle of Sheppeymarker and extends across three of the regions of England. The development is delivered through regional development agencies, special purpose development corporations and local partnerships.

Scope

The Thames Gateway comprises sections of 16 different local government districts in three regions:

Region Districts
London boroughs (brown), non-metropolitan districts (green) and unitary authorities (dark green).
Londonmarker From the North East and South East London sub region, the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenhammarker, Bexleymarker, Haveringmarker, Lewishammarker, Greenwichmarker, Newhammarker and Tower Hamletsmarker
East Essex non-metropolitan districts of Basildonmarker, Castle Point and Rochfordmarker; and the unitary authorities of Thurrockmarker and Southend-on-Seamarker
South East Kentmarker non-metropolitan districts of Dartford, Graveshammarker and Swale; and the unitary authority of Medway


Profile

The area accommodates around 1.6 million people and contains some of the most deprived wards in the country, characterised by lack of access to public transport, services, employment and affordable quality housing. Its boundary was drawn to capture the riverside strip that formerly hosted many land extensive industries, serving London and the South East, whose decline has left a legacy of large scale dereliction and contaminated land.

The area of brownfield land, farmland and marsh has been seen by successive governments and planners as having potential to act as a catalyst for the regeneration and growth and for the social advancement of the area, helping to alleviate some of the growth pressures on London and the South East. The government also believes that new private sector housing will reduce house price inflation.

Administration

The Department for Communities and Local Governmentmarker is responsible for co-ordinating the project and development will be largely delivered by the three regional development agencies: the London Development Agency (LDA - part of the Greater London Authority), the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), as well as the national regeneration agency, English Partnerships.

The Thames Gateway project aims to improve the economy of the region through the development of marshland, farmland and brownfield land, utilising major transport infrastructure provision, and through the renaissance of existing urban conurbations. Comparisons may be drawn with developments east of Parismarker along the Marnemarker valley, but here a much greater area of land will be used.

Redevelopment zones

The development is split into zones each with a different agency responsible for delivery. The zones are:

Region Zones Delivery agencies
London London Thames Gateway Development Corporation
Greenwich Partnership and Bexley Partnership
South East Kent Thameside Delivery Board, Medway Renaissance Partnership, Swale Forward
East Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Basildon Renaissance Partnership and Renaissance Southend


Developments

Before 2003 most conspicuous development was situated west of Becktonmarker. There have been substantial housing schemes at Chafford Hundredmarker, Chathammarker and Greenhithemarker and there is a large shopping centre at Bluewatermarker.

Region Project Description Status
London, East, South East High Speed 1 High speed rail line linking Stratfordmarker and Ebbsfleetmarker stations in the Gateway area to central London and continental Europe. Fully operational.
London Thames Gateway Bridgemarker Road bridge between Beckton and Thamesmead near to the existing Woolwich Ferrymarker. Designed to provide segregated bus, tram or DLR carriage. Cancelled
London Stratford Citymarker 73 hectares (0.73 square km) (180 acre) mixed use site of 100 shops, three large department stores, cafés, schools, hotels, parks and health centres. 11,000 residents and 30,000 workers. Part of the site will be used for the Olympics and will be converted after 2012. Under construction.
London East London Transit The East London Transit is an intermodal transport scheme to connect housing developments to rail and tube. Phase I under construction, due to open 2009.
London White Hart Triangle Mainly derelict land close to Plumstead railway stationmarker being developed with the aim of creating 2000 new jobs, with funding from the London Development Agency and European Union.
East London Gatewaymarker The development is a world class port, and a logistics and business park. The port will be developed at Shell Havenmarker, a 607 hectare (6 km2) (1,500 acre) site in Thurrock. The two schemes are expected to create up to 16,500 new jobs. Port due to open 2011, business park 2008
East Southend-on-Sea The council is using money provided through the scheme to redevelop the town centre and seafront and create a "transport corridor" along the A13.
East Basildon Districtmarker £2 billion major developments planned. These include the regeneration of Basildon, Wickford, Pitsea and Laindon town centres; a new sporting village, a health and education research centre, investment in the Basildon Enterprise Corridor business area, a wetland nature reserves in the Thames Marshes and investment in housing estates such as Craylands, Five Links and Felmores.
South East Ebbsfleet Valleymarker Ebbsfleet Valley is planned in the area around Ebbsfleet International station. It consists of over 790,000 square metre (8.5 million sq ft) of mixed-use development, including housing, retail, residential, hotel and leisure sites. According to a May 2007 press release from Land Securities, an "iconic landmark for Kent" will be planned here. A 50-metre high sculpture is planned to landmark Ebbsfleet and Ebbsfleet Valleymarker, estimated to cost £2 million.
South East Swanscombe Peninsulamarker Previously the location of the Swanscombe Cement Works, this 130 hectare (1.3 square km) (320 acre) site, partly in both Dartford and Gravesham, is planned to have 2,700 homes and of office space.
South East The Bridge Lying close to the Queen Elizabeth II Bridgemarker on and around the site of the former Joyce Green Hospital, this 107 hectare (1 km²) (264 acre) development will have 1.5 million square feet (140,000 m²) of business space and 1500 residences.
South East Dartford Northern Gateway In early 2006 SEEDA (The South East England Development Agency) purchased a 2.6 hectare site on the edge of Dartford which had been used by Unwins, an off-license chain, which went into administration in 2005. They also purchased the neighbouring Matrix Business Centre to protect its future. They intend to develop the site with a mixture of retail and other businesses and housing.
South East Stone Castle It is located to the north of Bluewater Shopping Centremarker and will be a mix of residences, a new publicly accessible linear park in St Clement's Valley and a high quality business park set back from St Clement's Way. Phase 1 is known as Waterstone Park, where about 200 of an eventual 650 residences have been built.
South East Northfleet Embankment An industrial site of 74 hectares (0.74 km²) with 1.9 km of river frontage. Key sites have been acquired by SEEDA to prepare for the re-development of the area, which could potentially begin once the Northfleet Cement Works moves to the Medway Valley in 2008.
South East Chatham Town Centre & Waterfront Projected to deliver 1500 new homes, plus a variety of other projects, including the Dickens Worldmarker tourist attraction (opened May 2007); the Great Lines City Park; refurbishment and expansion of the Pentagon shopping centre with 1,4000 square metres of new stores and leisure facilities; a new 'cultural quarter' centred on Medway REACH, a new 2000 seat auditorium. Funding is being sought for a cable car system across the River Medway.
South East Gillingham Waterfront 1000 new residences and 200 new jobs are projected to be created on this 32 hectare site by 2010.
South East Rochester Riverside Key sites have been acquired by Medway Council and other areas are being acquired SEEDA to prepare for the re-development of the area, with 30 hectares being cleared and decontaminated. Proposed plans include 1700 new residences, with building work projected to start in 2008. 2.5 kilometres of new river wall are being constructed, with the site also being raised by 2 metres.
South East Strood Riverside About 500 new homes, improved waterfront access and improved flood defences, with completion projected by 2012.
South East Temple Waterfront A 21 hectare site with a possible 600 new homes and part of the waterfront designated for nature conservation. According to Medway Renaissance, the potential for a new railway station is being investigated.


Criticism

Significant concerns have been raised because the Thames Gateway project proposes removing parts of and building on the North Kent Marshes, which are recognised as an Environmentally Sensitive Area by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairsmarker and are largely covered by Sites of Special Scientific Interest. There are also fears of increased erosion. In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development defined Sustainable Development as 'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'. Opponents of development have argued that promoting the ecological significance of the area by increasing public accessibility to threatened marshes and wetlands, with improved transport corridors, will cause further erosion.

Proposals for a large international airport on Cliffemarker Marshes were dropped from the government's white paper on air transport in 2003 after they were rejected by local residents, the local council, as well as conservation charities such as the RSPB. The plan, which would have required the raising the ground level by 15 m. was also rejected by the Confederation of British Industry as too expensive. However there is a judicial review underway looking at other options for airport expansion including the possibility of a floating airport off the Isle of Sheppeymarker.

The north of Kentmarker has historically been a marshland area and is under great pressure by developers. In addition to the great variety of wildlife found on and along the Thames, these marshes offer invaluable natural flood protection for London area, ever under threat of flooding. A current threat discussed at a public inquiry beginning in April 2007 is a rail freight depot proposed at Howbury near Slade Greenmarker by ProLogis. This proposal implies development on an area of Crayford Marshes north of the present train sheds. The London Development Agency perceives some strategic merit in the proposals, although local councillors are not convinced that the depot would truly encourage train movements as an alternative to road haulage. This scepticism arises partly because the railways in the area are heavily used by scheduled passenger trains, to the extent that Crossrail trains seem unlikely to progress to Dartford unless new tracks were laid to boost local rail capacity.

Dave Wardle, of the Environment Agency, believes that "London and the Thames Estuary currently have one of the best tidal defence systems in the world". The Environment Agency assesses these systems will provide a high standard of protection well beyond 2030. However they also advise that future development in the Thames Gateway must go hand in hand with flood risk management, and take account of future plans for flood protection. The Agency insists it is important that effective flood risk management of the whole Estuary is not prejudiced by early decisions and development on the Gateway.

The Government has addressed some of these environmental concerns by designating the Thames Gateway as the UK's "eco-region", first announced in the 2007 Thames Gateway Delivery Plan . The objective of the "eco-region" is to protect and enhance the sustainability of the Thames Gateway, in terms of environmental quality, carbon reduction, and support for "green" economic development. This vision was elaborated in the 2008 Thames Gateway "eco-region prospectus", and implementation efforts are being led by the Homes and Communities Agency with support across Government and local stakeholders.

References

  1. Vigar, M., The Politics of Mobility, (2002)
  2. 'HM Treasury - Kate Barker's Review of Housing supply: Final Report published
  3. London Gateway - Business Park
  4. London Gateway - Business Park
  5. Tumbs down to Kent airport - Guardian
  6. New airport threat for north Kent BBC News
  7. Selling the Thames Gateway (Audacity.org)
  8. Thames Gateway Delivery Plan
  9. The Thames Gateway Eco-Region: A Prospectus


External links




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