Page last updated at 08:08 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Gateway prospects remain 'strong'

Map of the Thames Gateway area
The Thames Gateway is the largest project of its kind in northern Europe

A 9.6bn project to regenerate the Thames Gateway region will not be weakened by the economic crisis, a government minister has announced.

Housing minister Margaret Beckett said the region was "in a strong position to weather the current economic storm".

The area stretches from east London into Kent and Essex, with 40 miles of housing and business regeneration.

Last month BBC South East revealed new house-building projects in the Gateway had virtually ground to a halt.

Building targets for the Gateway include 160,000 new homes by 2016.

I believe that we have sound reasons to remain optimistic for the Gateway's long-term prospects
Housing minister Margaret Beckett

In October, the South East England Development Agency (Seeda) said ongoing projects would be finished, but new housing projects would be put on hold because of current market conditions.

Mrs Beckett said: "The financial downturn poses new challenges for towns and communities across the country. But I believe that we have sound reasons to remain optimistic for the Gateway's long-term prospects.

"Over the past year the first contracts have been awarded for the construction of the world's most advanced container port, London Gateway.

"New schools and campuses have opened across the region, including the Financial Skills Academy at Tower Hamlets. Construction has begun on the Olympic stadium three months ahead of schedule."

'In denial'

Mrs Beckett also announced plans for a new "eco-quarter" within the Gateway in which green technologies will be developed and tested, along with up to 35 million for parks and other open spaces within the region.

She added: "Now is not the time to give up on the Gateway or start watering down our ambitions. In fact, it is more relevant today than ever before."

Conservative regeneration spokesman Stewart Jackson said: "The government is in denial about the mess that is Thames Gateway - ploughing on regardless with unrealistic housing plans, poor strategic leadership and project management and a woeful lack of consultation with local people and their elected representatives.

"More of the same will not deliver a better quality of life for residents in the Thames Gateway."

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Thames Gateway plans unveiled
30 Nov 07 |  UK Politics

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