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Thames Gateway regeneration at risk of 'calamity'

The Thames Gateway regeneration project is running the risk of becoming ‘another public spending calamity’ according to a key parliamentary committee.

The Public Accounts Committee report claims that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is unable to manage the vast regeneration scheme due to poor planning and a disjointed approach.

More than 160,000 new homes are planned for the 64km stretch of Thames coast line, while 180,000 jobs are hoped to be created by 2016 – with the hope that they will generate £12 billion a year to the economy.

But the committee’s chairman, Conservative MP Edward Leigh said: ‘It still amounts to little more than a group of disjoined projects, which do not add up to a programme which is purposeful and moving forward.’

Leigh added that the DCLG is ‘at present manifestly not up to the job of managing the enormously ambitious enterprise of regenerating the Thames Gateway region.

‘Action must now be taken to prevent the enterprise ending in another public spending calamity,’ he added.

The committee added that without ‘significant improvement…[the project is] unlikely to achieve its potential to make a major difference to economic regeneration and sustainable housing’.

The DCLG has refuted the claims, however, and is about to publish its delivery plan that will outline its proposals to hit the 160,000 new houses target.

In a statement, the DCLG said: ‘Following the recent spending review, we will shortly be publishing our delivery plan for the Gateway in which we will set out fully costed plans to continue regenerating the area.

‘We have clear targets to create 160,000 new homes and 180,000 new jobs by 2016. We are on course to meet, if not exceed, those targets – that is what delivery is about.

‘We simply do not recognise many of the suggestions in the report.’

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