Setting out the LTC road to local benefits and key programme highlights

The ASELA Joint Committee met on Thursday 10 February 2022.

Lower Thames Crossing presentation

The Committee received a presentation from Matt Palmer, Executive Director, Lower Thames Crossing at Highways England. Matt spoke about the benefits to local communities that the construction of the LTC (or A122) will bring. He said LTC:

  • will create 22,000 jobs over the lifetime of the project, peaking at 10,000 at one time
  • is committed to work to maximise opportunities for local people and businesses
  • is working to enhance STEM education in local schools
  • is committed to leave a low carbon construction legacy, working with the construction industry and local businesses to spread good practice in decarbonising construction
  • is committed to a 20% net gain in biodiversity – providing new public green spaces, green corridors and green bridges to minimise impact on wildlife
  • will minimise the impact on the visual and noise landscape – 80% of the 23km route is underground or in a cutting
  • will support active travel by improving walking, cycling and horse-riding routes.

Construction of the LTC is due to begin in 2024 and complete in 2029/30.

Close working between ASELA and LTC will be important to ensure the full benefits of LTC are delivered across South Essex and we maximise the linkages between the ambitions in the ASELA five programmes and those of LTC.

The Committee received highlight reports from ASELA’s five key programmes, including:

Thames Freeport

Full Business Case submitted end of January – one of three to submit to this deadline along with Teesside and Humber.

Once this is accepted – decision due late March/April – then we can begin to draw down capital and seed funding and invest in community projects. There is also £6m committed as part of a Skills and Workforce Development Strategy (including support SE Technical University).

Thames Freeport has real potential to drive enormous growth across South Essex through:

  • £5.1 billion additional GVA
  • Over £4.5 billion in new public and private investment
  • 21,000+ new jobs with many more across supply chains, with significant investment in training and skills
  • 1,700 acres of development land – much with planning consent
  • £400 million port investment into some of the most deprived areas.

Infrastructure and Housing

ASELA and Homes England signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 17 January forming a strategic place-based partnership, one of only two of its kind in the UK. This partnership is key to unlocking stalled developments and accelerating the delivery of infrastructure and housing across the region.

ASELA continues to work with housing associations and is shortly to launch work with SME housebuilders to find innovative ways to open access to local, smaller firms to development opportunities.

Leaders will be engaged on an early draft JSF over the coming weeks.


ASELA has appointed Metal as creative partner through a competitive tender process for the SEEPARK project and across ASELA. Metal work from Chalkwell Hall in Southend to transform the potential of people and places through great art and inspiring ideas.

It is important that as we build out the green environment, we also build in appropriate creative spaces that work for local communities.

SEEPARK will link and nurture five varied large-scale landscapes covering 23,000 hectares – including woodland, parkland, wetland and marshland – across South Essex bringing the benefits of ecological diversity and carbon capture as well as opportunities for leisure, tourism and business. It will also create a continuous coastal path stretching 70km from Tilbury Fort to Shoeburyness.

Full fibre digital connectivity

A key priority for ASELA is for every household, business and community facility to have access to affordable full fibre digital broadband connectivity by 2025.

By April 2022 we will have laid more than 200km of full fibre infrastructure to over 220 public and community sites. All of this will be available for use across the public sector at no ongoing cost for 15 years whatever the bandwidth consumption.

Engagement with village halls and community centres is progressing well as we seek to spread the community benefits of the full fibre infrastructure.

We will begin a procurement process, which should be complete by July, to ensure each connected public site can derive best value by taking service from the infrastructure.

We continue engagement with fibre carriers and infrastructure providers who have expressed an interest in investing in the region. This promotion of the market opportunities of our region has so far stimulated some £50m additional private investment.

Funding of 85K has been secured within Thurrock Council to leverage the full fibre deployment to support the health and wellbeing of Sheltered Housing residents, in a model we hope to spread across the region.

South Essex Technical University

The full business case will be ready before the end of February. This will map out the steps to procuring a higher education provider to offer the first tranche of degree apprenticeship courses starting in September 2023. It has been developed along with five key large businesses – Ford, DP World, Southend Airport, Leonardo and Olympus. It is clear there is a gap in the HE market and that there is a demand from employers for technically skilled workers now and into the future. With ASELA’s intervention this gap would not be plugged and our young people and local workforce would miss out on a host of opportunities for good jobs and careers. The development of the university will be incremental. The route chosen for its establishment, by procuring an existing HE provider, will get it off the ground as quickly as possible. It can then develop and gradually add to its offer to meet the needs of more students and a wider group of businesses across the region, who we will involve increasingly as the project progresses.

Watch the recording of the full meeting at Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) - Joint Committee - YouTube