HCA to decide which schemes in regeneration area have ‘realistic chance of getting off the ground’

The government’s regeneration super quango is to review all its spending in the Thames Gateway, writes Joey Gardiner.

Sir Bob Kerslake, chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), said the body was conducting a full review of the funding of all schemes over the autumn. The HCA took charge of regeneration spending across the area upon its formation at the start of December 2008.

Kerslake said: “When we took control of the programme, it was clear the remaining funding that had come across wasn’t aligned to the projects and there wasn’t a shared view of what could go ahead given the new constraints.”

“We are therefore conducting a review of all projects yet to be contractually agreed. We have to decide which ones still have realistic expectations of getting off the ground before the end of the Comprehensive Spending Review period in 2011.”

He added that any projects that had been contractually agreed would go ahead.

Schemes earmarked for funding but now under review include parts of the regeneration of south Essex and north Kent, improvements to the East London tube line and Docklands Light Railway, and regeneration in the Greenwich peninsula.

There wasn’t a shared view of what could go ahead given the new constraints

Sir Bob Kerslake, HCA

The Thames Gateway funding controlled by the HCA was known as the growth area cash before the formation of the agency. However, Kerslake said this had already been reduced by the time the HCA took control of the programme.

A spokesperson said the budget had been cut by £50m last year with a further £10m per year being cut from the 2009 and 2010 budgets. The HCA said that the funding for 2008-11 was now £191, including a £75m annual budget for 2009 and 2010.

The Thames Gateway programme reduced by £50m last year, prior to transfer to HCA, to support the housing programme. There has been no impact from this on project delivery so far. Subsequent to the transfer to HCA a further £10m per year was removed from the 09/10 and 10/11 budgets reducing them to £75m in each year.

The review will not directly affect the urban development corporations in the area, which are funded directly by the communities department. These are subject to a separate five-year assessment.

Kerslake added: “Previously, I think a lot of people assumed that if they didn’t get their money this year then they’d get it next year. Now we’re in a different world, and we don’t have certainty of funding beyond the spending review.”