Former deputy prime minister heading group to look at ideas to redevelop region
Norman Foster and dRMM director Sadie Morgan are on a 17-strong task force headed by former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine to revive plans to redevelop the Thames Gateway
The Thames Estuary Growth Commission will look into ways to attract private investors into the area which stretches from east London and across into north Kent and Essex.
It has been stalled since shortly after another former deputy prime minister, John Prescott, decided to champion the region more than a decade ago.
Heseltine predicts the region is set to be the country’s next big development opportunity and, in an exclusive interview with BD’s sister title Building, said: “This area is going to develop whatever happens. The economic forecasts are so obvious, so irresistible that development is going to take place.”
The Tory grandee said it was important to get British builders and architects on board and those joining Foster and Morgan, who is already a member of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and HS2 design panel chair, include the former chairman of the ODA, John Armitt, Arup chair Gregory Hodkinson and the head of house builder Berkeley, Tony Pidgley.
Others on the team include property developers Stuart Lipton and George Iacobescu, the chief executive of Canary Wharf, and Atkins chief executive Uwe Krueger.
Heseltine added: “British civil engineering is building some of the most exciting projects in the world so inviting the chief executive of Arup and Atkins and Fosters was a very obvious way of bringing British overseas expertise to our deliberations.”
He said the task force would cover private and public spheres and would have an overall responsibility for the development.
“There’s a lot of work going on and nothing is more boring than people setting up to compete or duplicate what others are already doing,” he said.
“The first thing I wanted to achieve was the presence on the commission of four people who had existing roles, who it was very sensible to incorporate in our deliberations.
“First of all the [DCLG] minister, Greg Clark. Secondly Andrew Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission and self-evidently we don’t want to duplicate what they’re doing. Thirdly, [deputy London mayor] Eddie Lister has got a committee of local government and the LEPs, so his presence on the commission was very important. And fourthly, [Treasury minister] Jim O’Neill, in order to involve the Treasury and financial institutions.”
The task force will look at how to develop clusters of economic activity and make the most of planned infrastructure ahead of reporting back to chancellor George Osborne next year.
“Our early work will be about the ideas. And if we find the ideas that are attractive, then we can start to talk about their implementation.”
The remaining members of the task force are DCLG minister Mark Francois, Imperial College president Alice Gast, HS1 chief executive Nicola Shaw and the head of infrastructure at Lloyds Bank, Geoffrey Spence.
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