Tony Blair and John Prescott visit Gravesend to launch strategy for growth in the Thames Gateway.

Prime Minister Tony Blair today underlined the government’s commitment to delivering sustainable communities in the Thames Gateway by launching the government’s strategy for the growth area.

Sharing a platform with the deputy primeminister John Prescott in Gravesend, Kent, Blair committed £6bn across government to deliver new homes, schools, health services, jobs, green spaces and transport links.

He said: “We are spending £6 billion of Government investment to turn brownfield, derelict land into new homes, new jobs and new open space. We are transforming the lives of thousands of people by providing a high quality environment, better access to education, new job opportunities and the decent homes needed to keep communities strong and together."

Sustainable Communities: Delivering the Thames Gateway sets out how the largest regeneration scheme in Western Europe is benefiting from unprecedented investment - including:

• £1billion for transport;

• £26m for new parks and woodland;

• £60 million to improve health services; and

• £850 million to improve quality of life, provide 120,000 new homes and create around 180,000 new jobs.

Thames Gateway is set to become home to one of the world's largest environmental initiatives. Prescott has announced that from April 2006, all publicly funded new homes - thousands each year - will subscribe to the new Code for Sustainable Buildings, which will bring new buildings up to world-class environmental standards.

The Thames Gateway Strategy published today highlights the progress made since the launch of the Thames Gateway programme in July 2003. Progress includes:

• £1 billion investment in transport, including the Thames Gateway transits, extensions to the Docklands Light Railway, and commitment for Channel Tunnel Railway domestic services in 2009.

• Announcement of the projects to be taken forward under the £200m Community Infrastructure Fund for the four Growth Areas, including Fastrack in Kent, and platform lengthening in South Essex.

• £40 million investment in three new universities in Southend, Medway and Royal Docks.

• £60 million investment in healthcare provision across the four Growth Areas, plus a change to the way PCT allocations are calculated to take account of population growth.

• £26 million invested in local environment projects, including a £4.65m package of environmental improvements in North Kent, just under £1m for the RSPB reserve at Rainham Marshes, and £6.8m for two major environmental projects at Ingrebourne Valley and a new community woodland at Gravesend.

• A strengthened planning framework to ensure flood risk is taken account of in new developments.