Ambition for Thames 'linear city' cools

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The Independent Online
AMBITIOUS talk about a 'linear city' either side of the River Thames east of London has been abandoned in favour of a more cautious approach to development by the Government.

Yesterday the Department of the Environment unveiled its planning guidelines for the East Thames Corridor, renaming the area Thames Gateway in an attempt to spruce up its image.

A few years ago one of the Government's senior advisers spoke of the corridor's potential as 'mindboggling' and said it could be the biggest urban development scheme in British history.

The guidelines published yesterday say: 'The aim is to secure a moderate level of growth in the medium term as part of the expected overall change in the balance of new development in the South-east from the west to the east.'

David Curry, Minister of State at the department, said: 'This is not going to be a corridor city, it is going to be a development which has got distinct communities.'

The aim is to use much of the 4,000 hectares of development land in east London, Essex and Kent, to build 110,000 houses and bring in new industry creating tens of thousands of jobs. Transport projects totalling pounds 4.5bn are in hand in the area.

The Government is trying to steer a middle course between the post-war 'new towns' approach with its heavy state involvement and the 1980s London docklands disaster when over-reliance on the free market resulted in an inadequate transport infrastructure.

It wants to work with the private sector and local councils to revitalise the area.