The recent announcement of plans for a £2bn Disney-style entertainment resort in Ebbsfleet, centred around a Paramount Pictures theme park, the development of which will create 27,000 jobs, once again saw the Thames Gateway area and its regeneration in the national media spotlight.
To their credit, other Thames Gateway related ‘Grand Projects’ have also been keeping the area and its regeneration in the press, such as:-
• Another Dartford Crossing
• “Boris Island”
In addition to those headline-grabbers, other recent Thames Gateway property-related news include:-
• At Land Securities’ 24,000 homes and 10,000 jobs Eastern Quarry scheme, also at Ebbsfleet, the developer’s transport infrastructure improvement obligations have been reduced from £40m to £25m to entice it to start construction of the first 1,500 homes phase of that proposed development.
• At Essential Land’s Sittingbourne Mill site, construction of Morrisons superstore is underway.
• The Spirit of Sittingbourne’s town centre scheme is coming together with a development agreement expected to be exchanged shortly with a planning application possible before the end of the year (the Spirit of Sittingbourne is Swale Council’s chosen regeneration partner and a consortium consisting of Essential Land, a private developer and a financial fund manager).
• Spenhill, Tesco’s development arm, has been granted planning permission for a 97,000 sq ft store in the town centre (although the decision has been called-in by the Secretary of State).
• Essential Land are planning to commence development of 1,400 new homes at the old Glaxo Smith Kline site.
• Land Securities lodged an outline planning application for 5,000 new homes and office space on a 800 acre site at Lodge Hill Chattenden.
• Peel Holdings obtained planning permission for the £650m regeneration of 26 acres of brownfield land with a 1.9m square feet scheme at Chatham Docks, known as Chatham Waters, a project that will create 3,500 jobs and will include offices, an education complex, a hotel and residential, retail and landscaped public areas.
• Edinburgh House’s planning application for Gravesend town centre, with 1,000 new homes, has reached public consultation.
Indeed, the Thames Gateway remains host to numerous key investment opportunities:
• In Dartford and Gravesham: Dartford Northern Gateway, Dartford Town Centre, Ebbsfleet Valley, Gravesend Town Centre and Northfleet Embankment schemes which together total a projected 12,250 new homes and 23,000 new jobs.
• In Medway: Chatham Centre, Chatham Waters, Chatham Maritime, Rochester Riverside, Rochester Airport, Strood Centre and Lodge Hill Chattenden schemes which together total a projected 12,400 new homes and 14,000 new jobs.
• In Swale: Sittingbourne Town Centre, Queenborough and Rushenden schemes and Port of Sheerness schemes which together total a projected 2,000 new homes and 6,600 new jobs.
Kamal Aggarwal, Head of Thames Gateway office said:
This announcement is wonderful news for North Kent generally and for Kent Thameside in particular. This, and the number of other significant projects under way across North Kent, is evidence of the confidence investors have in the area with it’s excellent road and rail links, access to the huge South East and European markets and a highly trained local work force. Coupled with the vision and energy of the local authorities we are fortunate to have across North Kent it gives a further boost to confidence and to the long term vision of the Thames Gateway project.
So, contrary to the simplistic generalisations of some, the Thames Gateway regeneration has not stopped.
Being a long term project, the Thames Gateway will experience inevitable periods of slowdown and periods of growth.
As the above shows, it remains one of great potential.