M11 `pipeline of concrete'

THE long-dreaded concreting of rural north Essex came a step closer to reality with millions of pounds set to be spent building roads and houses.Opening the tap on what one environmental campaigner called the "pipeline of concrete", Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott yesterday unveiled a £30 million pound spending package to kick-start building projects in the M11 corridor.

THE long-dreaded concreting of rural north Essex came a step closer to reality with millions of pounds set to be spent building roads and houses.

Opening the tap on what one environmental campaigner called the "pipeline of concrete", Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott yesterday unveiled a £30 million pound spending package to kick-start building projects in the M11 corridor.

The move is part of the Government's bid to ease the housing shortage in the South East and provide more affordable property for public sector workers.

Mr Prescott has also earmarked extra money for three other growth areas – the Thames Gateway, Milton Keynes and Ashford in Kent.


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Details of the M11 cash boost - to be split between Harlow and Cambridge at the north and south of the corridor – specifically exclude any mention of proposals for the area around Stansted.

David Simmonds, Essex spokesman for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, last night said the "threat" hanging over that part of the county remained.

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Consultants are currently drawing up an initial draft of their study for housing, transport and regeneration needs as a result of possible airport expansion with their findings due for publication in early September.

Mr Prescott said: "The extra £30 million will really help to support the thriving high tech economy of the M11 corridor and we will ensure that the benefits of economic growth are captured for future generations.

"This means high quality, high density development supported by good transport facilities, local schools and health centres."

Mr Simmonds said: "That area does not need any more boost than it's got already. My fear is that this is just the beginning of all the massive building and concreting plans the Government has for rural Essex."

Mr Prescott hailed £330 million to be spent aimed at delivering 120,000 homes and 180,000 jobs in the Thames Gateway area by 2016.

Five priority areas are being targeted in East London, Greenwich-Woolwich, Barking Reach, Thurrock and North Kent-Thameside, where the money will be spent over the next three years on 100 projects to open up key development sites.

It is expected that this will lever in at least £1-2 billion from other public and private partners.

Mr Prescott said: "Today marks the start of a real and long-term commitment, coupled with long-term delivery. The money I am allocating will help to kick-start the process of turning Europe's largest collection of brownfield sites into living, breathing communities where people are proud to belong.

The Gateway package includes £130 million for projects at the London end of the Gateway, including Stratford, the Royal Docks, Greenwich, Woolwich and Barking Reach; £100 million for North Kent; £91 million for South Essex, more than £100 million to be allocated shortly for projects awaiting approval, creation of Urban Development Corporations in Thurrock and East London.

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