Extending Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet in Kent and building a multi-modal crossing of the Thames estuary are among the recommendations made by a Government commission on the future of the Thames Gateway.
The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission was set up in 2016 to examine the future growth prospects for east London, south Essex and north Kent, an area home to 1.3 million jobs and 1.4 million homes.
Originally chaired by Lord Heseltine, the chairmanship passed last autumn to Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission. The report was prepared with the assistance of consultant Arup.
The Commission says the area suffers from low skills and education levels, entrenched deprivation, fragmented governance, and limited high quality public transport, other than the high-speed line between Kent and central London.
The area could accommodate more than a million new homes and a million new jobs by 2050, it says.
The south-eastern branch of the capital’s east-west Crossrail should be extended from the current terminus at Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet, says the Commission. The Government should provide the expected £20m needed to fund the next phase of the project’s development.
Plans for a medical campus in the central area of Ebbsfleet are endorsed. The Commission urges the promoters of the London Resort entertainment complex at Northfleet to submit a Development Consent Order application for the proposal as soon as possible (LTT 02 Mar).
“Should an application not be submitted by the end of 2018, the Government should consider all the options for resolving the uncertainty this scheme is creating for the delivery of the wider Ebbsfleet Garden City.”
The Commission supports the Government’s plan for a Lower Thames Crossing. “However, in order to future-proof the proposed crossing, the Commission believes that the design should, as a minimum, not preclude the future delivery of infrastructure to support rail transport links and/or autonomous vehicles.”
A further new multi-modal including rail crossing should be built east of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, combined with a second Thames flood barrier. This could be delivered by 2050.
The Commission recommends a transport innovation zone that would promote “clean technology in transportation, logistics, and data systems and unlock housing opportunities with new means of public transport”.
Statutory joint spatial plans should be prepared by councils in north Kent and south Essex, says the Commission. “There is a clear case for focusing a joint spatial plan on south Essex, where work is already underway,” it says. “The optimal geography for a joint spatial plan in north Kent is less clear.”
The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) should be split in two: one covering Essex, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock, and the other covering Kent and Medway.
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