Heseltine reveals big hitters to transform the Thames Estuary

The construction sector will play the leading role in former deputy prime minister Lord Michael Heseltine’s task force charged with redeveloping the Thames Estuary region.

Lord Norman Foster and dRMM director Sadie Morgan are thought to be on Heseltine’s 17-strong task force which will look into ways to attract private investors into an area which stretches from east London and across into north Kent and Essex.

The Thames Estuary Growth Commission will lead what Heseltine has described as the country’s next big development opportunity and the former deputy PM is keen to get British builders and architects on board to get the job done. Those joining Foster and Morgan on the commission include the former chairman of the Olympic Delivery Aurthority, Sir John Armitt, Arup chair Gregory Hodkinson and chairman of house builder Berkeley, Tony Pidgley.

Others on the team include property developers Sir Stuart Lipton and George Iacobescu, the chief executive of Canary Wharf, Atkins chief executive Uwe Krueger, DCLG minister Greg Clark, Lord Andrew Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, deputy London mayor Eddie Lister and Treasury minister Jim O’Neill.

The task force will span the private and public sectors and will have overall responsibility for the redevelopment of the Thames Estuary. It will assess how to develop clusters of economic activity and make the most of planned infrastructure before reporting back to chancellor George Osborne next year.

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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It is a disappointment that Thames Estuary Growth Commission does not appear to contain a single member with expertise in the development of maritime infrastructure on the Thames. If the Commission's remit is to encourage redevelopment of the Estuary then surely it requires some expertise in maritime matters such as port infrastructure, passenger transport by water and the environmental and navigational conditions of the lower Thames? If the Commission members are confined to experts in land based development then it is unlikely that the Estuary's potential for maritime growth will be appreciated.
Great to see interest in an area of Greater London that has been overlooked for decades. However there would appear to be a lack of joined up thinking. Currently the Thames Estuary 2100 Programme (led by the Environment Agency) is developing coastal flood defences for Thames to manage the impact of climate change for the next 100 years. We should take the learning from the Dutch in how they integrate infrastructure into coastal defences with the benefit of constructing investible solutions which allows these measures to pay for themselves. Lets not lose sight of an obvious win - win opportunity.
To Tim Beckett: Arup have extensive maritime expertise and would be able to comment on such matters.