Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)
- total grant value: £65,000
- time duration: March 2005 - July 2006
- To review and synthesise material relating to the Thames Gateway, and to draw out key messages and trends. The evidence was organised around a range of themes: strategies and spatial restructuring, governance and delivery, the economy, connectivity, social aspects, the environment and liveability.
- To consider and draw out transferable lessons from past UK regeneration schemes that have relevance to regeneration in the Thames Gateway.
The evidence review was a desk-based study that involved the following stages:
- Defining the themes to be reviewed, in discussion with DCLG
- Searching bibliographic databases for source material on the Thames Gateway
- Contacting local authorities and other agencies to identify non-published sources
- Selecting material that was research or evidence based and related to the themes
- Analysing selected material and summarising the evidence into a report.
In total, over 2,000 sources were identified, with around 300 of these being reviewed in detail.
The evidence identified ways in which challenges within the Thames Gateway are being met, as well as highlighting areas where certain challenges remain. Selected findings include the following:
- Strategies: Although there are many excellent strategies for the various sub-regions of the Gateway, there is limited evidence of co-ordination between them, little assessment of overlap or conflict, or of how realistic their targets are.
- Governance and delivery: Much of the literature reviewed concludes that delivery is a key priority for the Gateway. Although substantial progress has been made in certain areas, there are still a number of barriers identified, such as a lack of infrastructure (transport and utilities), insufficient funding for infrastructure, a lack of co-ordinated delivery and assessment mechanisms, and a lack of leadership. Evidence also points to some gaps in the involvement of the voluntary and community sectors.
- Economy: Economic growth within the Gateway will be key to the region's success. Economic strategies set out a vision of an economy driven by high-value added, knowledge-based industries. However, evidence points to a number of barriers to achieving this type of growth, including the relatively low-skill jobs currently available, the relatively low qualification levels of residents, and business location factors, which may not encourage high value added businesses to move to the Gateway. Marketing and promotion will be important factors in addressing the negative perception of the Gateway.
- Connectivity: Transport connectivity and economic growth in the Gateway go hand in hand. There are currently a number of significant schemes underway or in the pipeline. However, there is mixed evidence over whether the planned capacity for the new schemes will be sufficient to achieve the Gateway’s objectives. Evidence suggests that there need to be better connections to the strategic transport network, as well as good interchanges, and integrated transport solutions written into developments.
- Social aspects: The Gateway presents a complex picture in terms of the current profile of the population, their needs and the different levels of service delivery in the area. There are significant pockets of deprivation in the Gateway, particularly in the inner-London boroughs, with mixed levels of education and health across the area.
- Environment: The Gateway is asset-rich in terms of its natural environment, although there is little evidence to suggest that the quality of the natural environment is being addressed in its overall development. To date, there has been no Sustainability Appraisal or Strategic Environmental Assessment of the plans for the Gateway.
- Liveability: Evidence suggests that there is a significant gap between housing supply and demand in many areas in the Gateway, particularly in terms of social and affordable housing. In addition, the design of new housing does not appear to be encouraging socially and demographically mixed communities. It is also clear that existing town centres can absorb much of the proposed new housing, which offers the additional benefit of existing social and economic infrastructure.
Butina G, Brownill S, Carpenter J, Durning B and Reeve A (2006) Thames Gateway Evidence Review, London, ODPM
Brownill S and Carpenter J (2009) Governance and 'Integrated' Planning: The Case of Sustainable Communities in the Thames Gateway, England, Urban Studies, 46 (2) pp. 251-274
Brownill, S., Carpenter, J. and Dixon, T. (2007) Fit for purpose? Multilevel governance in the Thames Gateway. European Urban Research Association (EURA): 10th Anniversary Conference, September, University of Glasgow, Scotland
Dr Juliet Carpenter
tel: +44 (0) 1865 484 194