Government officials and representatives visited Gravesend to see the opportunities and potential of the town and the borough.
We hosted the visit today (Thursday 23 November), welcoming guests by Uber Boats by Thames Clipper, who had travelled from London’s Westminster Pier to Gravesend Town Pier.
Following the award of £20 million from the Government’s Levelling-Up Fund, to kick start regeneration to bridge some of the health and well-being inequalities in the borough.
Council Leader Cllr John Burden and senior officers highlighted the challenges faced within the borough, which has some of the highest health and wellbeing inequalities in the country.
Cllr Burden highlighted that Government had categorised Gravesham as a Priority 1 area for levelling up intervention. He stressed how important it was that officials allocated support to the Borough, support he and the council had been campaigning for over many years.
He said: “To those who live and work in London and further afield, think of Gravesend and you probably think of a town in the prosperous south east; in Kent, the Garden of England, with its rolling Downs, fields, and wealthy towns and villages.
“And yes, parts of Gravesham are just like that, particularly to the south of our Borough.
“But as our guests discovered today, our urban wards in Gravesend and Northfleet are among the most deprived, not just in Kent, or the south-east, but in the country.
“In a borough covering an area of just 38 square miles, we are faced with some of the starkest health and lifestyle inequalities in the country.
“I hope having visited, our guests recognised that together we can make a real difference to a community that deserves support.”
However, those challenges were set against the incredible opportunities the borough offers for regeneration. Major projects are underway, others with planning permissions in place but awaiting developers to overcome viability challenges.
On arrival at Gravesend Town Pier, they visited the town, taking in key regeneration and cultural sites, and meeting representatives of local communities.
They heard how their support could help accelerate regeneration plans . This would contribute to tackling the issues faced in the borough’s most deprived areas.
Speaking after the event, Cllr Burden said: “Members and officers of this council have been working hard over many, many years to make the case for Gravesham to national Government and other bodies.
“We are a borough on the cusp of something very, very good, and this week’s announcement that we are to receive £20million from the Levelling-Up Fund reflects that this is recognised nationally.
“I can promise everyone that the money will be used wisely and prudently to make the maximum difference to the lives of our residents.
“We have a number of key projects with applications in place but for which the developers need support with viability challenges and putting in place the necessary local infrastructure needed to get them over the starting line.
“We are determined to work with partners including those who visited today and most importantly local people to accelerate progress on developments such as Albion Waterside, Clifton Slipways, and Northfleet Harborside.
“The successful delivery of these key regeneration projects is vital for the borough.
“I thank those who accepted the invitation to travel down to Gravesham to witness for themselves the challenges and opportunities in front of us.”
Adam Holloway, MP for Gravesham, said he wanted to thank council officers who had worked so hard to help secure the levelling up funding which would help build upon schemes to improve health and inequality issues in the borough.