As the Thames Estuary region grows in stature and attracts international attention as a major growth hub, Jane Thynne reports on the huge economic opportunities heading to Thurrock
Standing at the heart of the Thames Gateway and benefiting from 18 miles of bustling river, rail and road connectivity, it is easy to see why Thurrock is a hotbed for regeneration. Over the next 10 years, the area will be buzzing with commercial activity as key industries, including energy, logistics, food and the arts all make their way to this Essex enclave.
One of the most significant transformations currently under way is at the Thames Enterprise Park on the site of the former Coryton Oil Refinery. The park, a joint venture by fuel supplier Greenergy (which currently uses part of the wider site for the Thames Oilport fuel terminal) and iSec, is being developed as a 168-ha industrial "Superhub". The multimillion-pound scheme is being mooted as 'north-west Europe's largest industrial regeneration" project and is set to create in excess of 5,000 jobs. The multi-modal location will be made up of four zones comprising: food, energy, sustainable industries and innovation. And the team is hoping to have plots ready for the new businesses as soon as spring 2019.
"We are certainly targeting the food sector," explains Mike Forster, development director at iSec. "The aim is to cluster businesses together, offering cost savings through synergies. Being so close to London, it’s also a great way for manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint." Forster is also hoping the hubs will provide vital support for each other and cites the current demand for waste-to-energy operations as one example.
"If we do have an energy hub on-site there will then be the potential to have a 'private wire' – basically our own electricity network provided by a waste-to-energy scheme," he says. The sustainable industries hub is mainly centred on the smaller and medium-sized businesses which will support the larger food and energy markets. These will include research and development firms, start-up supply companies, packaging and so on.
"The aim is to be an incubator for smaller companies. We want to help them grow and succeed," explains Forster. "Training is another important area we are looking at in terms of sustainability for the main industries and an on-site education centre is something we are keen to develop." Aside from the industry, a sizable amenity quarter would offer hotel and conferencing, retail and leisure in support of the other hubs, and are all job creators in their own right.
A housing report presented to Thurrock Council yesterday highlighted plans to create over 1,000 new homes in the next five years, as part of…