Ambitious plans to transform the Thames Estuary have been crafted on the river.
The Thames Estuary Growth Board, which will unlock substantial growth in the area, met on a Thames Clipper to begin detailed planning.
In March 2019, the Government backed a report by the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission and published a bold vision for growth in the Estuary – including transport enhancement, house building, business creation and environmental improvement.
The plan could create 1.3 million jobs, 1 million homes and contribute £190 billion to the national economy by 2050.
Since then, the Government has appointed Kate Willard as Thames Estuary Envoy and chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board. It will be made up of a diverse mix of public, private and third-sector leaders once finalised.
Political appointees from across the Estuary are on board from London, Essex and Kent, with the River Thames itself represented by the Port of London Authority.
The board met on the river to get a better understanding of its geography and discuss some of the challenges they face.
Kate said: “We are thrilled to get started on realising the huge potential of the Thames Estuary.
“It was hugely important we developed our thinking on the river itself. There are already plans in place for a whole raft of improvements across the Estuary and the Board is clear our role will be to add value to these initiatives without duplicating effort.
“We will develop and lead a portfolio of new initiatives and we will be bold and creative in our thinking to make amazing things happen across the Estuary for communities, businesses, investors and for UK plc.”
The Thames Estuary Growth Board will publish its Action Plan in May.
The Thames Estuary is an area of the South East of England, stretching from east London through north Kent and south Essex. The region has nine airports and seaports that connect it directly to mainland Europe and facilitates international trade.
The growth potential of the area is substantial. It has ample brownfield land suitable for much-needed housing; and strong further education and research institutions. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty and rich in wildlife habitats. It is home to 3.6 million people with projections to reach 4.9 million by 2035.
In October 2019, Kate Willard, a senior adviser at Stobart Group, was appointed as the Estuary Envoy. Acting as an advocate for the region, Kate’s role is to forge positive relationships with local businesses, communities, local authorities and others.
Kate is also Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board which will receive £1 million of government funding to drive economic growth plans in the area.
The Board’s purpose will be to help stimulate growth in the economy across the Estuary by: championing and shaping the vision for the region with key stakeholders; acting as a critical friend to local and central government on delivery; and driving Thames Estuary priorities.
To find out more about the government’s ambitious vision and delivery plans for the Thames Estuary read our response (25 March 2019) to the Thames Estuary Growth Commission report.
Read the full Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission report