Financial trouble at Thames Enterprise Park a signal for Canvey Caution?

Breaking News from “Your Thurrock”, indicates just how fragile the economy can be, even in one of the world’s most significant enterprise zones.

“THURROCK’S regeneration plans have been dealt a massive blow with the news that an investor for a multi-million pound scheme that hoped to bring thousands of jobs to the borough has pulled out.
For years, the creation of a Thames Enterprise Park, next door to DP World London Gateway in Stanford-le-Hope, has been promoted as one of the major regeneration projects for not only Thurrock but the whole of the South-East.

The park brought with it the hope that thousands of jobs would be created as a number of companies would move onto the park.

For over a year, a £13 million pound demolition project has been underway at the site formerly occupied by Petroplus.

But a source close to YT informed us that the demolition company, Browns and Mason received a thirty day termination notice last week. YT understands that over a hundred men were working on the demolition project alone.

Some will no doubt point to the timing of the announcement, just days after the Brexit verdict in the EU referendum. During the referendum campaign, chancellor George Osborne did warn that major infrastructure projects such as Operation Stack in Kent and the new Thames Crossing may be in danger. Remainers may well say “I told you so”.

The news also comes hard on the heels of reports that £5 million worth of european investment for Tilbury has also been withdrawn.

The chief executive of the Thames Enterprise Park, Chris Brookhouse confirmed the news but in a detailed statement, remained positive.

Mr Brookhouse said: “Good progress is being made in redeveloping the former Coryton refinery site for alternative uses. We have already opened Thames Oilport as a fuel import terminal and are well into the process of clearing the remaining land in preparation for alternative uses as Thames Enterprise Park.

Discussions to sell the land at Thames Enterprise Park to a third party have stalled as the exclusive prospective buyer has informed us that they no longer wish to continue the transaction on the expected timing. We have had to re-evaluate the extent of preparatory works we are undertaking on site at this time.

The long term prospects for redevelopment are very good. There was a strong shortlist of bidders before we chose our preferred bidder. As a brownfield site adjacent to London Gateway with road, rail, river and pipeline access, the redevelopment potential of the site is unchanged. There are discussions on alternative ways to develop the land already taking place, but it is too early to predict timescales or the likelihood of finding a resolution.

I’m afraid we are not in a position to name the intended buyer or to comment on the reasons why the sale is not going ahead in the expected way.

The decision will be one of the first major challenges for the new Tory-run administration at Thurrock Council

Portfolio holder for Business, cllr Garry Hague said: “Good progress is being made in redeveloping the former Coryton refinery site for said: “Thurrock Council is working with Thames Enterprise Park on a master plan for the development of the Thames Business Park in the east of the borough. The plan focuses on the energy and environmental science sectors.

“It is disappointing that one of the investors is withdrawing from the project. However, Thurrock remains a great location for business and plans have been developed to explore other partner opportunities should situations like this arise, which can happen at any time on a major project of this nature.

“The council is working hard with Thames Enterprise Park to ensure that progress on the Thames Business Park continues as efficiently as possible.”

YT has contacted Browns and Mason but they had not replied at the time of publication

Ignoring any suggested reaction leading from the EU Referendum, as the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group prefer to stay neutral, it is clear that the recent business expansion plans for Canvey Island that feature so prominently in the Castle Point Council Local Plan, may be just as vulnerable to reconsideration.

A Local Plan should be just that. A Plan that is financed on realistic projections, of late there has been to much conjecture and promises of new roads and employment.

Castle Point Council will be hoping the latest version of their Local Plan is considered “Sound”.

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