ODPM document sets out pre-election delivery plan as Livingstone announces arrival of Crossrail.
The government has announced a masterplan for the development of the Thames Gateway at the MIPIM property fair in Cannes this week. The document lists all the sites in Essex and Kent that will be developed, and sets out the “business plan” for Britain’s biggest new-build programme since the Second World War.
At the same time, London mayor Ken Livingstone announced that an agreement on the funding of Crossrail, the vital transport link between the Gateway and London, had “virtually been reached”.
Together, the two announcements reassure the construction industry that work on the Gateway will go ahead, and bolster the government’s reputation for delivering large public projects ahead of the general election.
Industry leaders have complained that the government has not provided a coherent strategy for the development of the area, and were particularly concerned about infrastructure investment.
Most of the Thames Gateway sites in the ODPM paper are understood to be near existing transport nodes, but some will be on sites requiring additional infrastructure.
The document will include plans for public–private partnerships, using the model worked out by Bellway Homes and English Partnerships at the 180 ha Barking Riverside project in east London.
John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, said the ODPM document would be an overarching plan that would co-ordinate the work of individual delivery units such as urban development corporations and urban development companies.
He said: “Later this month the government will publish our business plan for the Thames Gateway. It will set out what we have achieved since July 2003 and what our priorities are for the future.”
He added that the strategy would be followed through by area regeneration strategies prepared by local partners.
The intervention by the ODPM could clear up the confusion over the respective roles of the government and the Greater London Authority.
The mayor is taking an increasing role in housing and regeneration issues and has recruited the ODPM’s expert on urban policy, David Lunts, to lead his team.
Livingstone told delegates at the London stand at MIPIM that he expected the government to make an announcement during the summer about funding for Crossrail.
He said that the government had already promised to hand over £2bn but he expected that additional money would come from the business rate and fares revenue.
Livingstone is holding talks with a number of parties, including the CBI and London First, an economic development agency, to decide the level at which the rate will be set.
He added that £10bn had been earmarked to improve infrastructure in London over the next five years: £7bn will come from the Treasury and £3bn from the private sector.