Councillor Coxshall, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, stated he was delighted to present his portfolio holder report which summarised the considerable work carried out over the last 12 months and highlighted the following:
• Government had committed to providing funding for and help deliver the £46m east-facing slips project at Lakeside, which was a crucial infrastructure priority for Thurrock.
• £47m on the east facing slip road this would make a major difference around the Lakeside basin.
• £80m on the A13 widening scheme which was a huge project and would include three lanes from the M25 right up to Stanford le Hope.
• £1b investments into the Thurrock which was a large sum of money for a small borough.
• Four Integrated Medical Centres would be built that linked to a wider reconfiguration of hospital services across South Essex.
• £80m for the refurbishment of Thurrock Hospital.
• Ten new schools in the next ten years resulting in more new school places.
• Thurrock Local Plan Issues and Options (Stage 2) Consultation Document where the public consultation will run for 12 weeks from 12 December 2018 to 8 March 2019.
• Progress had been made on the asset management and release programmes to dispose of assets no longer required.
• Managing major planning applications over the next few months which would potentially deliver approximately 5,000 homes and 5,000 jobs.
Councillor Kerin thanked the portfolio holder for the report and the update on the exciting projects but questioned the potential delays and uncertainty on crucial projects such as the Civic Square, Grays Underpass, Purfleet Regeneration, Extension to the Civic Offices, Local Plan being behind schedule and questioned whether these projects should have been executed in a more efficient way.
Councillor Coxshall stated the delay of the Civic Square was due to Labour referring the closure of Orsett Hospital to the Secretary of State. That the £11m business plans for Grays town centre were critical and that the Council was on target to start these in 2019/20. The Purfleet Regeneration Limited had signed contracts and engaged with Swan Housing and was currently addressing an objection from the Mayor of London. That the Local Plan was now open for public consultation and the Council would listen to resident’s comments.
Councillor J Kent commented on the lavish plans for the extension of the Civic Offices and questioned how the proposed £10m spend would benefit Thurrock residents. Councillor Coxshall stated that as part of the Grays Regeneration Framework all public buildings such as the library, Civic Offices, Crown House and the state cinema were all part of that plan and this would be the opportunity to connect the entrance to the Civic Offices in the right location so that residents can see where they have to go.
Councillor Spillman stated that two floors of the theatre were empty and the wasted space was not generating any revenue and asked for assure that this would be on the agenda and addressed. Councillor Coxshall agreed that maximum income from the Thurrock’s assets was vital and the plans moving forward would be to move more staff into the Civic Offices but further consultation and engagement would be required.
Councillor Smith questioned that alongside the planned projects there should be an assurance that a 21st century transport link be addressed to take the pressure of the roads in Thurrock. Councillor Coxshall agreed that invested had been made to the roads in the borough and that a rail scheme needed to be addressed but this could not be done in isolation and would need to work with the South Essex and Thames Estuary Partnerships. Councillor Coxshall stated that Thurrock had a great independent bus service provider.
Councillor Coxshall reiterated that the Local Plan was at a critical point with all 49 Members having to make some big decisions that could affect Thurrock for the next 25 years.