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Future plans for South Essex area to be discussed

15th July 2020
Posted by Aston Avery

South Essex councils are set to take their case to central Government for a package of investment and devolved powers to drive new infrastructure, economic growth and new housing across the area.

The work is to begin immediately, once councillors in five South Essex councils have had the chance to consider a joint report setting out the plans.

Basildon Council will consider the joint report at a meeting of Policy and Resources committee on Wednesday 22 July 2020.

The intention is to work with Government ahead of the autumn Spending Review to make sure South Essex is at the forefront of ministers’ minds.

The package of investment and devolved powers is summarised in a draft south Essex prospectus, and includes an ambition to create 100,000 new jobs by 2050 and grow the region’s contribution to the UK economy by £15bn. In addition, it includes plans to:

  • help 50,000 businesses to grow and increase their productivity
  • ensure that all new development is underpinned by infrastructure and especially social infrastructure including education and health services
  • build an economy that is enabled by the strongest digital network for a mixed rural and urban area in the UK
  • ensure its businesses and residents recover from the impact of COVID 19 and as many of the 12,000 jobs at risk are replaced by 2022
  • work with partners to establish a Freeport within South Essex
  • create an integrated public transport system that puts active travel and decarbonised transport at its heart, enabled by a package of transport investment
  • unlock £5bn of private sector investment
  • create over 5,000 work opportunities for young people aged 16-24 a year and 5,000 apprenticeships a year in the next ten years
  • deliver a total of 96,000 new homes, including 29,000 affordable homes for key workers, by 2038 – as determined for each local authority by the already agreed strategic assessment of housing need
  • become a carbon zero region by 2040, using a combination of innovative energy technology, minimising harm caused by travel and reshaping why and how we move, and designing in the highest levels of energy efficiency in our town planning and building design

Cllr Rob Gledhill, leader of Thurrock Council and Chair of ASELA, said

“This update and draft prospectus is another significant step forward for ASELA and South Essex. The package we want to share with Government later this month is summarised in a draft South Essex prospectus, and includes an ambition to grow the region’s contribution to the UK economy by £15bn to help correct the decades infrastructure deficit and create 100,000 new jobs by 2050.

“We have already shared the benefits of working collaboratively with a successful bid for £4.4million from Government to enable Full Fibre broadband infrastructure across South Essex helping providers to deliver some of the fastest connections in the country to residents and businesses.”  

Leader of Basildon Council Gavin Callaghan said:

“With the right levels of investment and powers to make decisions and act in the best interests of our residents across the region, South Essex can become one of the major forces driving recovery and growth in the UK.

“Our councils are determined to work together and tackle the big issues we face as a region. This includes how we can deliver better infrastructure, new housing and new jobs, and get the funding that will be needed to do it properly and create and drive prosperity in all our communities.

“ASELA has been talking to central Government already. The partnership has written to Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government setting out its ambitions for South Essex. A prospectus for investment and recovery is set to be submitted to Government later this month and ahead of the national Budget and Spending Review that takes place later this year.

“This is a programme that is needed more than ever to help our local businesses survive and thrive and ensure local people have access to local jobs and education and skills alongside an infrastructure that is fit for purpose.”

The Conservative group at Basildon Council has criticised the plans, saying:

“The creation of a ‘combined authority’ for South Essex will not serve the interests of the residents of Basildon Borough. Additionally, buried in the report are provisions for a future ‘South Essex Metro-Mayor’ to take control of our planning and future housebuilding in the Borough.

“We fear that this would lead to the brunt of new housing being dumped on Basildon.”