Agenda item

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Strategic Planning

Minutes:

Councillor Coxshall stated the world had changed dramatically since his last portfolio report due to COVID and in some way this may have affected the Council’s investment strategies and investments in the local economy but in some other ways this had not changed and the report demonstrated the good work that had been done over the last 18 months in the borough. With the Council working with the private sector, with Government funding, outside bodies and local authorities across the SELEP region.

 

Some of the areas covered in this speech were:

·         Tilbury2 - The borough’s first national significant infrastructure project was now complete with the process involving close joint working between the Council and Port of Tilbury. This was another port for Thurrock and had the honour of visiting there last week. That this port had been a Brexit dividend which would create 500 new jobs in the borough.

·         Two further development controller orders (i) Lower Thames Crossing had been handed over to the Secretary of State and was quickly moving onto inspections and onto the next stage and (ii) London Resorts would be a great economic benefit to Thurrock and could completely change the river front and how this could be used in the future with the opportunity of great leisure facilities.

·         That Tilbury and Grays received £25 million from the Towns Funds of which £1.2 million had to be spent before March 2021 on small changes but big improvements in both Tilbury and Grays. With a further £50 million for Tilbury and Grays to be spent by 2025 with the Council having until January 2021 to deliver plans on how this money would be spent.

·         Particularly pleased with Tilbury’s £25 million as for too many years Tilbury had been left behind.

·         That New River still had commitment to Thurrock and continued to see the great opportunities in Grays.

·         Local Plan – it was important to move forward at a rapid pace and Members would be contacted very shortly before this was moved onto the next stage with partners, Princes Foundation, officers and the portfolio holder. That community engagement would be vital to ensure they benefit from what they want.

·         Concluded that Thurrock was the best place to live, work and play and the report had demonstrated that.

 

Councillor Kerin thanked the portfolio holder for his report and raised the matter on the legal situation in regards to Thurrock Regeneration Limited and asked for the full composition of directors and the situation regarding the resignation of the three directors this year. Councillor Coxshall stated that post COVID had changed everything and what was needed was to relook at the delivery of housing strategies and a review would be required to ensure that good quality housing would be delivered and a paper would be presented to the General Services Committee with the results of what would happen with Thurrock Regeneration Limited.

 

Councillor Kerin referred to the A13 Widening Project and questioned the mitigation plan that was in place and asked for confirmation from the portfolio holder that Thurrock tax payers would not be asked to pay the financial shortfall accrued by the mismanagement of the project so far. Councillor Coxshall stated he could not give that guarantee as this would stop all investments given to Thurrock by the Government and that every avenue would be pursued to ensure that Thurrock residents would not pay any more money.

 

Councillor Kerin referred to the Preston Model and the five year plan and asked what figure was the portfolio holder anticipating and what concrete examples could he give of Thurrock moving in the Preston Model direction. Councillor Coxshall stated the Thurrock model had been used but asked that if Councillor Kerin had any examples to bring them forward.

 

Councillor Allen asked the portfolio holder to ensure that the monies available for Tilbury would be well spent and not wasted and to ensure sustainability for years to come so that Tilbury be set for a brighter future. Councillor Coxshall stated that 10% of the £25 million had to be delivered on revenue spend with the rest to be capital spending. That engagement had commenced with the wider communities and ward members and as a board member would want this money to be spent on four or five big items of capital spending to ensure that an iconic legacy would be left in the borough.

 

Councillor J Kent referred to the disappointing decision made by New River to put Grays Town Centre up for sale and had been a blow to the plans that had already been carefully put together and asked the portfolio holder to categorically rule out that the Council would step up and buy the town centre. Councillor Coxshall stated absolutely, what the Council needed was partners and joint ventures and to look after those benefits of residents.

 

Councillor Muldowney referred to the Government’s recently published White Paper which set out the proposals for the reform of the planning system and Council working as a pilot authority for the roll out of the new reforms and asked the portfolio holder how the Council would ensure that affordable housing and other accommodation would be delivered for local residents if the Council became a pilot on these reforms. Councillor Coxshall stated the Council had a forward looking and a low cost policy in delivering the local plan across party and to deliver low cost housing for the community and younger people at a reasonable cost and that these planning reforms could do that if carried out right.

 

Councillor Coxshall summed by stating the importance of the Local Plan, that engagement with communities and Members on how this plan could help decide what was being delivered and how those changes can help deliver low cost housing for Thurrock residents.

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