The Thames Estuary area is perhaps an unusual one in development terms. While close enough to London to benefit from its prosperity, it is also far enough away that much of its potential has so far gone untapped. At the moment, however, there are a number of key schemes in the area and in this report we will home in on those that are located mainly around the Dartford Crossing area.
Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission
The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission is something that could potentially accelerate the development of the area. However, the Thames Estuary was designated a Growth Area back in 2003 and progress so far has been quite slow.
More recently, the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission was established in the 2016 Budget with the aim of regenerating both sides of the River Thames in east London, south Essex and north Kent. The aims of the Commission are to work with local partners to help create centres of excellence in activities in which the area specialises, such as ports and logistics, as well as encouraging new industries especially creative ones. Its remit also covers infrastructure, skills and housing.
The Commission has forecast that by 2050 the Estuary area could generate an additional £190bn GVA and 1.3m new jobs, and 1m new homes could be provided to support this growth.
The most recent progress made is that the Commission has accepted submissions from interested parties and published a report outlining a vision and delivery plan for the area in summer 2018. In March 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a response broadly accepting the Commission’s proposals and said that it is now looking to local partners including local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, universities, businesses and civil society to realise the vision. It has allocated a fairly modest £1m to set up a new Thames Estuary Growth Board.
Lower Thames Crossing
Development of the area has always been constrained somewhat by limited connectivity between north and south of the River Thames. However, plans for the Lower Thames Crossing could transform accessibility here. The Lower Thames Crossing is a major new 14.5 mile road from near J29 of the M25 around North Ockenden in Essex and the M2/A2 at Shorne near Rochester in Kent. It will incorporate a twin bore road tunnel under the River Thames.