Exclusive: the view from within
With a powerful development corporation on the patch, what is the role of local authorities surrounding Ebbsfleet? What can they do and what are they doing to support the development in the Garden City?
Ebbsfleet Garden City magazine asked these questions to three councillors sitting on the board of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC): Councillor John Cubitt, leader of Gravesham Borough Council; Councillor Jeremy Kite MBE, leader of Dartford Borough Council; and Councillor Mark Dance, cabinet member for economic development at Kent County Council.
John Cubitt, Gravesham Borough Council: “We have a number of roles. We act as a convener: communication is fundamental. We have helped the EDC to build relationships with key partner organisations and our communities as well as the council itself.
“Gravesham Council remains the housing authority. We have a robust understanding of our local housing market and the needs of our local people – sometimes those needs can be met by the market, but sometimes affordable housing products are needed.
“Moreover, while some planning powers have been transferred to the EDC, plan-making remains with us. We have recently adopted a Local Plan Core Strategy. The four sites within the Garden City – two quarters at Ebbsfleet and the two Northfleet Embankment sites, west and east – are strategic allocations within the core strategy to provide a high level supportive framework for their future development.
“Finally, we keep an eye on the future: while the creation of the EDC has been welcomed, the council is mindful of the place at year 11 as the corporation will only be around for five to 10 years. We are confident that by working in partnership with the EDC, the developers, landowners and statutory providers of infrastructure, there will be a positive legacy for the borough’s residents and businesses.”
Jeremy Kite, Dartford Borough Council: “Our biggest role is to make sure Ebbsfleet Garden City fits with what already exists in Dartford, in terms of the architecture and characteristics of the place. You can’t build a successful community by leaving it solely to the developers to determine everything.
“We’re embedded in the heart of the EDC and for our residents it’s crucial we oversee the sort of development that has direct benefits for them.
“We are 16 minutes from London and two hours from the continent. This means growth is naturally inclined to develop here, but we need to create the infrastructure, which is not yet at an acceptable level to support the scale of development planned.
“We need to apply a certain amount of pressure to central government to build the roads that people need and improve the public transport system.”
Mark Dance, Kent County Council: “Growth in Ebbsfleet is not happening in isolation. It is a major growth area and will have a fundamental impact on Kent’s wider economic potential and communities.
“We work with district councils to ensure a joined up approach across north and wider Kent.
“We understand north Kent’s strategic infrastructure needs and have pushed for cross-county investment, including the Lower Thames Crossing. With the EDC and other local authorities, we submitted a case to the National Infrastructure Commission for the extension of Crossrail to Gravesend.
“Kent County Council will work with the EDC in attracting inward investors to the garden city. Locate in Kent has helped 46 businesses commit to relocate or expand, creating or retaining 3,325 jobs, of which 2,397 result from overseas investment.
“Since February, the county council has committed over £55 million across three business finance schemes, via regional growth funding secured by the council in 2012. The TIGER scheme provided funding to north Kent and other parts of the county. TIGER is now closed, with all funding committed, but our council seeks new opportunities to provide loan finance to business in the critical growth stage – which should enable employment in and around Ebbsfleet.”