New planning powers to speed Thames Gateway regeneration
Planning powers which will help shape one of the largest development projects the UK has ever seen are to be handed over to the specially-created Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation (TTGDC).The responsibility for deciding large scale and strategic planning applications has been stripped from Thurrock Borough Council and will be given to the corporation on October 12.
The corporation has been given a limited lifespan of seven years and was set up to oversee the flagship Thames Gateway redevelopment, which will see over 120,000 homes built on derelict brownfield sites in the Essex and Kent.
The project should also serve to showcase John Prescott's Sustainable Communities plan, which asks developers to make new homes more energy and water efficient.
The plan has its detractors, however, who argue that while it is only voluntary it seems unlikely developers will want to put the environment above their profits (see related story).
The transferral of planning powers will, however, ensure the TTGDCT has teeth and will be seen by many as a step in the right direction towards sustainable growth and regeneration of Thurrock and the surrounding area.
Minister for Housing and Planning, Yvette Cooper said: "The establishment of the corporation was widely supported and will bring new money and skills to lead the regeneration of Thurrock, working closely with the council and other partners.
"The transfer of planning powers for strategic applications will enable TTGDC to secure important changes and make a real and positive difference to the local community in Thurrock, bringing business investment and increased employment."
Chairman of TTGDC, William McKee CBE said: "Alongside our land assembly powers and the significant new funding provided by the Government, the ability to decide strategic planning applications means the TTGDC now has all the tools it needs to begin securing the regeneration of Thurrock and meeting the targets for new homes and jobs set in the sustainable communities plan.
"To meet these aims, with the support and help of its partners, TTGDC will promote new commercial and residential developments, supporting economic and social infrastructure and environmental improvements to bring about a structural lasting change in the quality of life and opportunities for all Thurrock's residents and a new vibrant sense of place in which people will want to live."
By Sam Bond