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Economic Potential Key To Regeneration - UK PM

Economic potential key to regeneration - PM

Unlocking economic potential will play a major part in creating "thriving communities" in the Thames Gateway, the PM has said.

In a speech at the Thames Gateway Forum 2007, Mr Brown said that the Government hoped to see as many as 225,000 jobs generated in the area to 2016. Around 160,000 new homes will be built along with 27 new or refurbished schools and eight new hospital developments in a £9 billion programme.

The PM said:

"Our aim is to help create thriving communities with new homes, new jobs and a better environment. And we know that the starting point - indeed the fundamental precondition - must be to unlock the Gateway's economic potential."

To enable economic development the PM revealed details of transport and infrastructure improvements, including £200 million for attracting new businesses and £100 million for improving road and rail links. Express services will be put in place for commuters and the transport infrastructure will be joined to key lines such as the London Underground and the planned Crossrail development.

Echoing his comments on the importance of education and training, the PM pointed to an £850 million investment in education facilities in the area and the expected creation of around 13,500 apprenticeships and 10,000 college places. Development plans were part of a "wider story" on housing, with three million provision across the UK, he said.

Mr Brown said:

"We know that economic growth, more businesses and more jobs will create demand for more homes. And what is happening in the Thames Gateway is only part of a wider story on housing where the Government is determined to do more to meet the rising aspirations of the British people for better and more affordable homes."

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The Department for Communities and Local Government published a detailed delivery plan on the next three years of the Thames Gateway today. On 23 November the Department launched the Planning Bill, draft proposals aimed at streamlining planning procedures for major development projects.



Speech at the Thames Gateway Conference, 29 November 2007

Prime Minister:

Can I say first of all what a great pleasure it is to be here at this great centre, to be here on the second day of this great exhibition, to be able to congratulate everyone who is contributing both to the exhibition today and to the regeneration of the Thames Gateway, and to thank all here, councillors, builders, developers, voluntary organisations, exhibitors of all kinds, for the work that you're doing to regenerate this city and the whole of the Thames area. To thank David Taylor whom I first worked with on development and planning issues 30 years ago, and to thank Yvette Cooper who has announced in the last few months that we will build three million more houses in Britain by 2020, and to be actually in this centre which will also be one of the centres for the Olympics, and I understand it's going to be the focus for Olympic wrestling and so it's probably relevant that John Prescott and Michael Heseltine have spent some time here in the last two days.

Looking outwards from the centre, as I did as I came into the Thames, we can recall just how long the river Thames has been Britain's gateway to the world. The Thames is where the Romans set up camp, Henry VIII built the great navy that defeated the Armada. By late Victorian times the wharfs of the ports of London had tens of thousands of dockyard workers and cemented Britain's place in the lead of the world for world trade. While in the post-war era once great warehouses and wharfs and factories became empty symbols, today we can celebrate the Thames Gateway returning to its rightful place of leadership. Europe's biggest regeneration project underway, the prospects for this area 40 miles around the Thames estuary, once again being transformed putting the Thames Gateway, not just in a leadership position in Britain, but in Europe and the world, not just for economic development, but as I will suggest in a few minutes, for environmental development, as well.

As Yvette said, today for the first time we are publishing the comprehensive delivery plan for the next three years. This sets out detail of large, new capital investment in education, health, transport, housing, local government services, right across this gateway. In total, and this is over and above the Crossrail project, over £9 billion will be invested in the communities in the periods to 2016. Let me just confirm to you the scale of what is being proposed and will happen. There will be three new university campuses, an expansion of Medway Universities. There will be 27 new primary and secondary schools. There'll be 90 new Sure Start centres for children. We will complete eight new hospital developments, and there will be a £40 million programme to rebuild and improve NHS primary care facilities. And our aim is therefore to help create thriving communities with new homes and new jobs, in a better and more sustainable environment, and we know that the starting point, indeed the fundamental pre-condition of everything, is to unlock the economic potential of the Gateway.

We can't, and won't, and don't want to supplant the role of enterprise. It's companies, it's investors, it's people represented here today who will make the economy take and work for the future, but we can work with you to establish the environment within which enterprise can flourish. So, we're announcing also today with the development plan a £200 million joint economic investment fund with the three south east regional development agencies and private sector partners to support some of the key economic and environmental priorities in the Thames Gateway for the years ahead. We've already identified what will be four economic hubs; Canary Wharf, the Olympic site, Stratford, London Gateway Port at Shellhaven, and Ebbsfleet, and in each of these focal points we will do more to attract new businesses and new jobs. And, as everybody knows, taking the right long term decisions to improve our transport infrastructure is the key. We've already seen the rise of Canary Wharf as a key financial district. It is served by the Jubilee Line, and over the next decade we will see a major transformation of transport links in this part of the country. A new £100 million community infrastructure fund that's being announced will support local road and rail schemes, 13 of them, across the Thames Gateway. Both the Docklands Light Railway and the East London line will be extended. Ruth Kelly, our Transport Minister, is today announcing a commitment to address the largest remaining transport bottleneck and that's Junction 30 off the M25.

I remember the day in 1998 when John Prescott told a packed House of Commons that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project, which had been on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse, was to be saved, and this month saw the opening of the finest railway station at St Pancras, and we now have new high speed Eurostar trains linking London with Paris in just over two hours. It's a long way from 20 years ago when President Mitterrand said that the Channel Tunnel would open up two worlds of travel between France and Britain. He said there would be high speed travel from Paris to Calais and then he said from Dover to London there would be a chance to have a leisurely look at the English countryside. The international interchange at Ebbsfleet is now open and we are changing all that President Mitterrand said was going to happen. We're providing the basis for a new business and residential centre in Ebbsfleet Valley. Domestic services from North Kent will operate on this high speed track from 2009. And we're transforming, therefore, the employment as well as transport opportunities in this Gateway. And we've recently, as you know, given the green light to what is £16 billion of new investment, the private public Crossrail project connecting Canary Wharf and points east directly with Central and West London.

And alongside these road and rail links DP World has also been given planning permission to build a world class deep water port, London Gateway, at the former Shellhaven site. And when the initial phase, due to open in 2010, is open, this is the first major port to open on the Thames for 50 years. It will form the nucleus of the biggest business park in Britain, creating 14,000 new jobs. Now, until now, we were predicting 180,000 new jobs would be created as a result of the Thames Gateway by 2016. But now we are able to give the go ahead to all these crucial projects we are able to raise our ambition: 225,000 new jobs in the Gateway by 2016. A major expansion in economic opportunity over these next two years that will give young people, particularly, chances that were not available before. I spoke to the CBI this week and I told them just how important moving people into work and training is for the future. Tomorrow we'll announce details of a new working neighbourhoods fund to turn our most deprived neighbourhoods into job creating communities and in the Thames Gateway, where there are 190,000 people of working age who today are not in a job or in education, there is a real opportunity, with the jobs on offer, to be at the cutting edge of a new chance with economic opportunity. And there's no point in creating jobs if there are no skills, and skilled workers, to fill them. So the Learning and Skills Council is developing something quite new, a Thames Gateway Skills Plan, to help local people develop the skills needed to fill the jobs on offer. 1.6 billion will be invested in teaching and learning alone. £850 million in new further education facilities. The Creative Way Lifelong Learning network will generate hundreds of extra student places for local residents, to give them vocational qualifications and to provide specialist training for local people to fill jobs at the Olympic Park. And to get the benefit of the Olympics being in London in 2012 I can also announce that the Olympic site will become a National Skills Academy for construction. Full details will be set out in a few weeks time, but the academy will provide 1,000 job placements at least for people who are enrolled on local further education courses in construction. There will be 1,000 more in addition to that, training placements for local people, and there will be more than 500 apprenticeship places. We will help local residents also to get jobs on the site, meeting our aim that a large proportion of the construction workforce in this area will come from the five local boroughs.

Now, together, all these measures, I believe, represent an unprecedented effort to give the residents of the Thames Gateway new opportunities to move into work, to improve skills, to progress into better jobs, with in total, we believe, 13,500 apprenticeships, 10,000 college places, for local people across the Gateway. And we know that economic growth, more businesses and more jobs, will create another demand, for more homes. For most of us buying a home is the most important financial transaction of our lives. But a home is more than that; it's a backdrop for our children growing up, and for their memories during their upbringing. Most young couples want the chance to have affordable homes in this area. 20 years ago, a little over half of us were home owners. Now the figure is 70%. A million more home owners since 1997. But we know that house building has failed to keep up with housing demand. We know that the resultant problem is a widening gap between what young people earn and the price of a home. We know also there are 1.5 million households on waiting lists for social housing. And that's why Yvette Cooper has made it her challenge to build three million more homes by 2020. We've introduced new shared equity, affordable schemes to help first time buyers. We've dealt with much of the backlog of repairs and refurbishing old housing. We're introducing legislation to speed up planning for houses. We're prepared to take those who say, yes, more homes but nowhere near me, on. Because although none of this is easy we are determined to make the tough, long term decisions to build affordable housing in this country. And the delivery plan that's published today sets out our ambition: 160,000 new homes in this area by 2016. And 15,000 new affordable homes in the next three years to rent or buy on a shared equity basis. And the Olympics Athletes' Village will leave a legacy of another 1,200 affordable homes. We are also determined that housing growth must not be at the expense of a sustainable environment. And that's why we're setting a target to build 80% of the additional homes on brownfield sites and we're preserving the existing strong protection for green belt land.

I believe that we will lead the world in setting higher standards with zero carbon homes. Every new home from 2016, a zero carbon home. And ten new eco towns, new towns that are environmentally sustainable to set the pace for the future. Yesterday Yvette announced we are designating the Thames Gateway as Britain's first Eco Region. And that means setting the highest of environmental standards, not only for construction and for low or zero carbon housing, but also for water conservation, the parks, the green spaces, that should be so much at the centre of all development. A study published by the Environment Agency has said, if we take the right action it's technically possible to build 160,000 new homes in the Gateway whilst creating no overall growth in the demand for water. And we will establish a new Institute for Sustainability which will lead the way in applying new green standards to construction and urban design. And we're working in partnership with other governments around the world to put Britain at the leading edge of understanding the best ways to design, build, and live and work, in sustainable communities.

So right across the Thames Gateway, the most exciting things that are about to happen, investing in homes, schools and hospitals, roads, rails, streets and parks. Making it a thriving community while ensuring that we protect the environment for the future. And none of this would be possible unless we were together prepared to make these long term commitments, to fund new investment, over nine billion. New transport infrastructure, reforming welfare with job opportunities. Improving our planning system. Changes in our environmental standards. The Thames Gateway is about housing, but it's about more than a housing project. It is about transport, but it's about more than a transport project. It is about there being hospitals and schools to be proud of, but it's more than about health and education. It is about wholesale regeneration, but it's even more than just a regeneration project. Because it's about enterprise, jobs, skills. And it's more than an economic project too. It's a historic endeavour to bring together the efforts of so many people, of vision, determination and initiative, the efforts of communities up and down the Thames, to make this part of the world one of the most vibrant and successful, not just in Europe, but around the globe. A great place to do business, a great place to live, a great place to work, a great place to bring up a family.

So today, as we move towards the close of the first phase of the project, the Government, the Mayor of London, community leaders, have come together to sign, as we did a few minutes ago, the 2016 Thames Gateway Pledge. It is a commitment that I give you today, to work closely together, to achieve our aims in the years ahead, showing London, the South East, and the Thames Gateway as a whole, works best when we all work together. That is the change we will see. That is the improvement we will make. I believe we should be proud together of what we can achieve working in harmony. Thank you very much.


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