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Thurrock has defied the odds in a tough economic climate as several of the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation’s flagship projects made major breakthroughs over the past year.

  • Secretary of State approval for multi-million pound regeneration scheme to transform the centre of Purfleet
  • Royal Opera House Production Park site set to open by the end of year
  • £13m funding approved for National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural Skills
  • Grays Community Hospital demolition and site preparation works have started
  • Changes to the East of England Regional Spatial Strategy secured for transformational change and expansion at Lakeside
  • Granted planning permission for over 1,400 jobs and 1,600 new homes
  • Launch of Thurrock’s Next Top Boss helping young people get on the career ladder and boost their skills

One of the most significant decisions of the year was the government giving approval to the proposed scheme to transform the centre of Purfleet that could see up to £750million invested to create 1,141 new jobs and 3,500 new homes.  The Development Corporation now control 23.3 hectares in Purfleet and is in the process of securing a development partner for the scheme. 

Things are really starting to take shape at the Royal Opera House Production Park with the site on target to open in November 2010. The ground works and infrastructure are now complete, restoration of the listed buildings has begun and the Royal Opera House has erected the structure of its building. The National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills has now also received funding approvals of £13m and construction of its building will commence later this year.

Two vital projects in Grays took major steps forward when the Secretary of State confirmed the Development Corporation’s Compulsory Purchase Order for land and buildings required for the site of the new Community Hospital, and the Thurrock Learning Campus opened its doors to its first batch of students.  The Development Corporation is now concentrating its efforts on enabling works for the new hospital, including demolition, site clearance and the construction of a new access road.

Lakeside’s fundamental role in the successful economic future of Thurrock was assured late last year when the Development Corporation secured changes to the East of England Regional Spatial Strategy to allow regeneration, growth and transformational change at Lakeside, creating an additional 50,000m² of retail floor space, with opportunity for future large scale leisure development with potential for up to 6,500 new jobs.

At the end of 2009 the Development Corporation launched an exciting new competition backed by top business brands, local colleges and government that will launch the careers of hundreds of young people. Based in Thurrock, Next Top Boss brings together some of the UK’s top brands – from Unilever and Procter and Gamble to Lakeside retail centre, the Royal Opera House and the RSPB – which are all linked to the region. The competition will challenge teams of young people to solve real business problems – with winning teams getting career packages from the companies behind Next Top Boss. The goal is to help young people get ready for work, while showing the rest of the world how big businesses can come together to achieve real results. 

Reflecting on the past year, Will McKee, Chair of the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation said, “Driving quality development ahead in this market has not been easy, but our planned and measured approach focuses on a select number of key transformational projects.  Over the past year significant milestones have been reached and these projects will have multiple benefits for the local community and beyond.”