One Goal: Four Strategic Objectives
In coming together to create this vision, business and local authority leaders across the Gateway have carefully considered the very wide range of statutory and non‐statutory strategies and plans that have been prepared in recent years. These strategies show that we share a single overarching goal and four strategic objectives.
Our single goal for the LEP is to promote steady, sustained economic growth over the next two decades. Moreover, we must achieve this growth whilst simultaneously enhancing and protecting the valuable natural assets which make our communities and landscapes attractive and distinctive.
Over the decade to 2008, the UK as a whole benefitted from very high rates of economic growth. Yet there are parts of our LEP area which remain economically weak. For example, the GVA per person in East Sussex is two thirds of the UK average.
The three county councils, 29 district councils, and three unitary authorities are responsible for making the statutory plans (local development framework core strategies) which define the scale of growth which we envisage over the next two decades. In due course, we can draw these aspirations together and then judge our collective progress.
To achieve this single goal, we must achieve four strategic objectives. These are common to the LEP area as a whole and are embodied in our various statutory plans. Again, in due course, we can set clear milestones for each of these objectives and judge our progress.
OBJECTIVE 1: Secure the growth of the Thames Gateway
This is the largest single regeneration area in Europe and the strategic focus of our wider LEP area. With DP World’s new container facility and the Port of Tilbury in Thurrock, Ebbsfleet’s fast rail services to Europe, and Southend Airport, the Thames Gateway alone provides four key drivers of economic growth for our LEP area. As a national priority, the growth planned in the Thames Gateway provides significant opportunities for new businesses in new sectors and new employment opportunities.
OBJECTIVE 2: Promote investment in our coastal communities
Our coast is one of our most valued natural assets, but also subject to erosion and rising sea levels. Some of our coastal communities are already exceptionally prosperous but others suffer from significant deprivation. Others however, offer considerable unrealised potential and the possibility of significant economic growth. We see opportunities in tourism, low‐carbon technologies (including offshore wind, solar power and other renewable energy sources), creative and cultural industries, manufacturing, engineering and business services. Thus, we are clear that we must focus on promoting investment in Clacton, Jaywick, Hastings, Bexhill, Newhaven, Eastbourne, Harwich, Sheerness, Margate, Folkestone, Dover, Southend and Sandwich.
OBJECTIVE 3: Strengthen our rural economy
Similarly, we see significant opportunities in the rural economy across the LEP area. As the challenges of food and energy security grow, new opportunities are emerging in the food sector. At the same time, we envisage growth in tourism and more generally in a wide range of high value‐added services as super fast broadband is rolled out across the LEP area.
OBJECTIVE 4: Strengthen the competitive advantage of strategic growth locations
In addition to those in the Thames Gateway (most notably Southend, Basildon, Thurrock, Medway, Dartford and Gravesham) our LEP includes several other locations where we are promoting substantial economic growth. These include Ashford, Maidstone, Manston Airport, Harlow, Dover, Colchester, Stansted Airport and Chelmsford. Each of these locations is already home to companies with growth prospects and is attractive to others. We must ensure that investments take place to enable this growth to be realised
In deciding how to address these strategic objectives, we will take account of the economic relationship between London and the South East LEP economy. London dominates the economy of the entire Greater South East and proposals for the expansion of our economy must take this into account. In doing so, we will also be mindful of the short term opportunities resulting from the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games.