DD2189 Thames Estuary Production Corridor – Case for investment report

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
13 December 2017
Decision by: 
Jeff Jacobs, Head of Paid Service

Executive summary

The Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission was announced by the Government in March 2016. It has been tasked with developing an ambitious vision and delivery plan for North Kent, South Essex and East London up to 2050. In September 2016, the Commission issued a call for ideas. The GLA worked in partnership with the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) and the South East Local Economic Partnership (SELEP) to submit a vision for a Thames Estuary Production Corridor. This vision is an ambitious industrial strategy to transform the Thames Estuary into a production hub for the creative and cultural industries, and bring jobs and growth to benefit London and the wider South East.

Under cover of MD2129, £40,000 of GLA budget has been approved to commission further research to develop a strategy for the Thames Estuary Production Corridor. This decision seeks approval for the receipt and expenditure of additional funds to commission a ‘case for investment report’ so as to provide for a more detailed and compelling vision and a stronger evidence base for the Thames Estuary Production Corridor.


That the Executive Director of Communities & Intelligence approves the GLA’s receipt of:

• up to £30,000 from Essex County Council, acting as a contracting body on behalf of the South East Local Economic Partnership
• £10,000 from the London Borough of Lewisham
• £10,000 from London Borough of Bexley

and expenditure of the same and a further £10,000 of GLA resources (£60,000 in total) to commission a ‘case for investment report’.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

The Thames Estuary Production Corridor is an ambitious industrial strategy that has been developed in response to the increasing investment being made in transport and housing infrastructure across the wider South East sub-region. It makes the case for investment in state of the art large-scale production facilities for the creative and cultural industries primarily on strategic land along the Thames, creating an internationally significant research and innovation district. The development of the Thames Estuary Production Corridor will provide investment in skills, talent and jobs for local people as well as diversifying the talent coming in to the creative industries. The corridor would be underpinned by a high speed digital highway and be a leading green enterprise district.

In July 2016 the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission launched a call for ideas requesting ambitious, evidence-led propositions for the development of high productivity clusters in the region. The GLA responded with an outline for the Thames Estuary Production Corridor; this was further developed into a Vision Document co-commissioned between the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) and the South East Local Economic Partnership (SELEP) which was submitted to the Growth Commission in February 2017 (see Annexe 1). The purpose was to meet the Commission’s objectives to develop a plan for the area which would attract and retain skilled workers as well as look at opportunities for planned infrastructure.

This initiative is envisioned as a series of large scale economic clusters, dispersed along the Thames Estuary. The perimeters of the region are defined as the 7 East London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Greenwich, Havering, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets; the Kent Councils of Canterbury, Dartford, Gravesham, Medway, Swale and Thanet; and the Essex Councils of Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock.

The GLA and SELEP are now willing to commission a detailed report to develop further the case for investment for the Thames Estuary Production Corridor.


Central Government set out its ambitions to deliver growth across the Thames Estuary by setting up the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission in March 2016.

The GLA has been developing a vision for a Thames Estuary Production Corridor as part of the Mayor of London's commitment to developing and implementing a Cultural Infrastructure Plan for the capital. The Thames Estuary Production Corridor vision also sits within the context of the City in the East vision launched in 2015.

The Thames Estuary Production Corridor vision is signalled in the draft new London Plan (the Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London). It will feature in the Mayor’s Draft Economic Development Strategy and Draft Culture Strategy. In particular, the Thames Estuary Production Corridor is part of the Mayor’s blueprint for growth during and post Brexit, signalling the importance of the creative industries to London and the UK’s future economic growth.

In 2016, SELEP launched ‘Towards a National Prospectus for the Creative Economy in the South East’ (See Annexe 1). This document set out a portfolio of sector led initiatives and projects to build a more self-sustaining, creative and cultural infrastructure in the South East. The impact of these projects will enable the South East to become a globally significant location for the creative sector and help to sustain the success of the UK’s creative economy. It is in this context that SELEP has worked with the GLA to develop the vision document and this is now reflected as a key work stream for the South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN).

The Thames Gateway Partnership responded to the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, setting out a vision for growth and investment and identifying five key priorities industries, highlighting Creative Industries as a leading growth sector. The Thames Gateway Partnership are a private and public-sector partnership formed in 2001, whose Partnership Board comprises senior representatives from across the North Kent business, local authority and higher and further education community, from national government and agencies - Job Centre Plus, the Homes and Communities Agency, the Environment Agency and a North Kent Member of Parliament.

Objectives and expected outcomes

Scope of work should include:

a) Concept development and testing

I. Realise local/regional mapping.
II. Analyse barriers and challenges.
III. Identify new ideas in the pipeline – opportunities/ideas that could be part of the Thames Estuary Production Corridor and which could generate the greatest growth potential.
IV. Undertake national mapping of major production facilities – gap and needs analysis.
V. Undertake a research review (1) on higher and further education institutions clusters.
VI. Undertake a research review (2) on technological trends and developments across all creative sectors.
VII. Undertake an international comparator analysis.

b) Appraisal and recommendations

Develop a set of realistic options to include, but not limited to:

I. Develop (a) more detailed map(s) of sites across the Estuary that show(s) existing and potential key projects and clusters. This should also identify industry types.
II. Identify existing or planned infrastructure schemes across the Estuary region, which could act as an enabler for Thames Estuary Production Corridor projects and programmes. Identify potential stakeholders and investors.
III. Building on Research review 1, make recommendations for strengthening Higher Education Institutions’ links with the creative industry sector development.
IV. Building on Research review 2, identify virtual development opportunities across the Estuary (i.e. digital collaboration and connectivity).
V. Outline opportunities for cross sectoral working, knowledge exchange, creative collaboration and international export development.

Provide a robust business case for Thames Estuary Production Corridor, outlining key recommendations and identify next steps.

Equality comments

Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as a public authority, the Mayor of London must have ‘due regard’ to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not.

The proposed activities outlined in this decision will enable the continued creation of employment opportunities in both London and the wider South East region. The Thames estuary production corridor will also provide a wider significant economic impact to the wider area.

The activities set out in the main body of this report provide opportunities for organisations from a range of cultural and business sectors to engage with each other in order to work collaboratively and actively fosters closer working between a diverse range of both organisations and individuals, in order to realise the vision for the Thames Estuary Production Corridor.

The Estuary’s manufacturing legacy provides a unique opportunity for new industry. A skilled local workforce from fabricators to metalworkers already exists. The Estuary is at the forefront of the skills agenda with the National College Creative Industries based in Purfleet. Core to this vision will be the creation of pathways into long-term employment through schools, further and higher education (FE and HE), skills training, apprenticeships and careers advice ensuring equal opportunities for those institutions along the Thames Estuary.

Other considerations

In terms of both social and economic development, the activities outlined in this decision aim to inform the longer-term vision and development of the project which include increasing productivity, employment opportunities and growth.

The Thames Estuary Production Corridor will cut across varying Mayoral priority areas including the work that is already underway with regards to the Cultural Infrastructure Plan, the work of the Regeneration team and Economic and Business Policy Unit (EBPU). An internal GLA working group led by a Senior Manager from the Culture and Creative Industries Unit has been set up. It involves key officers from EBPU, Regeneration, Planning, Transport and Housing and Land Units, and from Transport for London (TfL).

Financial comments

Approval is being sought for the receipt and expenditure of up to £60,000 on the Thames Estuary Production Corridor Programme. A budget of £40,000 was approved under MD2129 and, as such, this decision seeks to approve additional funds to enhance this programme further.

Up to £50,000 will be received as grant income from external bodies (SELEP, London Borough of Lewisham and London Borough of Bexley) whilst the remaining £10,000 will be transferred internally from the Authority’s Royal Docks Team.

Although the gross expenditure of this programme will be up to £100,000, the net cost to the GLA will be up to £50,000.

Activity table



Invitation to tender

December 2017

Procurement of contract

February/March 2018

Delivery Start Date

March/April 2018

Final report delivered

February/March 2019

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