Five major programmes
To achieve growth and prosperity, five major programmes are currently being led by ASELA which combine to provide strategic place shaping and delivery on a regional scale that is not possible by any organisation or agency acting alone.
Superfast Digital Connectivity
A key priority for ASELA is for every household, business and community facility to have superfast digital connectivity by 2025.
In total 130km of spine fibre is being installed across the region, reaching 150 public sector sites to enable full fibre broadband. By March 2022, the fibre rollout will have been extended into more rural areas and additional public sector/community sites including GP surgeries, care homes, rural schools, community centres and village halls.
The next phase of this programme will be to establish a private sector-led board and start to develop the digital solutions that will be at the heart of the Thames Freeport, the Technical University and the South Essex Estuary Park.
ASELA will be continuing to support the development of the Full Business Case and the next steps in the requirements from government. ASELA backed the successful bid with Thurrock Council acting as the lead local authority driving the next stages forward with the private sector including Forth Ports, DP World London Gateway and Ford.
The anticipated benefits of the Thames Freeport include:
- £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
South Essex Estuary (SEE) Park
This ambitious project will create one single regional park system which will provide 23,000 hectares of protected landscapes, approximately 200km of new waterfront paths, 450km of green walking/cycling loops to enhance sustainable connectivity across the region, and a continuous coastal path stretching 70km from Tilbury Fort to Shoeburyness.
Activity over the next 12 to 24 months will be focused on creating and launching the SEE Park brand, developing a landscape framework plan and design guide, delivery of the Central Thames Pathfinder project and maximising funding and investment opportunities with a Green Finance Strategy.
Infrastructure and Housing
Over the last 12 months, a detailed pipeline of housing schemes has been developed with a specific focus on schemes that have stalled because of issues of viability. By working together across all the local authorities in south Essex, ASELA has been able to create a compelling case for a trailblazing strategic place-based partnership with Homes England. A Memorandum of Understanding is being prepared for consideration, along with a joint Business Plan.
In addition to this activity, progress is also being made through joint working with regional housing associations, through a new initiative to create greater opportunities for small and medium-sized builders.
This business-led proposition, backed by Ford and other large businesses, has the potential to transform the current higher education offering with a comprehensive and consistent portfolio of work-based learning courses, including Degree Apprenticeships.
There are plans to have a full business case developed by November 2021 and ASELA will be engaging fully with the Department for Education and education providers in the region throughout this time.