COUNCILLORS have criticised delays in delivering a £1billion project to regenerate Purfleet, which could now be affected by the financial meltdown of a housing association.
Purfleet Centre Regeneration Limited (PCRL), in partnership with Thurrock Council, plans to deliver more than 2,650 new homes around a new town centre, a media and film village and a Integrated Medical Centre (IMC) in a deal signed in 2015. It is one of several Thurrock regeneration plans.
Swan Housing Association is a major partner in PCRL but Swan has stated it only enough cash to operate until December and its future now hangs on a merger with Sanctuary Housing at the end of this month. It is also unclear, even if the merger goes ahead, how much Sanctuary will honour such schemes, which include the £575million, 1,170-home Queensway regeneration project in Southend.
Councillors at planning transport and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday were asked to note the “positive progress” of the scheme.
Rob Gledhill, Conservative councillor for Little Thurrock Rectory, said: “On the Swan Housing issue we can’t forget that a year or so ago that there was a financial warning issued in relation to the way they dealt with some of their investments and that the Government pulled their licence for social housing hence they are going into conversations with Sanctuary to become a new entity to carry that forward. It’s going to cause a delay.
“I have had a number of meetings with PCRL and on a number of occasions we’ve suggested it is time to call time on this and start delivering, actually delivering IMCs, town centres, TV studios. It doesn’t appear to be moving at anything I would call apace.”
The government has given Thurrock £25million of a £75million infrastructure grant. This is for planned new roads and road upgrades, purchasing land and agreeing plans for the medical centre. This is the first phase of the plan which is expected to start in 2023 along with completion of the first new homes.
John Allen, Independent councillor for Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park, said: “We need to see implementation of this. I was involved when I was first elected in 2016 so it seems to be going on for quite some time.”
Councillors noted the report after asking for the word “positive” to be removed.