The government and London mayor Ken Livingstone have joined forces to prevent the Thames Gateway becoming dominated by apartments.

The interim strategic framework for the area, launched by Ruth Kelly, the communities minister, in her keynote speech opening the Thames Gateway Forum on Wednesday, confirmed that the housing target had been increased 40,000 to 160,000. But she added that the government wanted to ensure that the development included an increased proportion of family homes.

Judith Armitt, the chief executive of the Thames Gateway scheme, said that most of the 40,000 increase was accounted for by Livingstone’s new willingness to increase housing provision.

She said that the communities department (DCLG) was keen to ensure that the development included more family homes.

A study by the University of East London found that 80% of the developments planned were for one-bed or two-bed units.

Livingstone backed the drive to increase the provision of family homes when he launched his housing strategy at the forum. This document gives an indication of how Livingstone intends to use his extended powers to fund the affordable housing that was promised in last week’s Queen’s Speech.

Government seeks to ensure that there are more Gateway family homes

Ruth Kelly, Communities minister

It included a commitment to increase the provision of three and four bedroom housing.

Alan Benson, the mayor’s housing adviser, said that the mayor was also keen to promote high quality design and environmental standards.

The government’s new housing and regeneration agency will no longer distribute grants when it is launched, said Duncan Innes, a senior English Partnerships official. Instead it would concentrate on taking a stake in developments into which it was putting money. In return it would expect to receive either a financial or a social return.

Turner & Townsend has been appointed to provide a study on the potential of a low or zero-carbon development area across the Thames Gateway. It was brought in to carry out the study by the DCLG and will work with Arup.

An interim report was launched on Wednesday and the final report is expected to be delivered in February.