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Thurrock: A Visionary Brief in the Thames Gateway has redefined what is meant by ‘culturally-led regeneration’. It is a major programme of new thinking about Thurrock and the Thames Gateway, bringing an international perspective to local, regional and national policy debates around cultural practice in regeneration.

The programme has set out an innovative process for planning and development in the Thames Gateway. It has demonstrated that if culture is interpreted widely, if regeneration is addressed holistically and if a creative process is embedded in planning and decision-making, then it is possible to create truly sustainable communities.

Underpinning the programme is a celebration of the strong local character and values of the area, as well as an emphasis on the importance of quality and innovation, local participation, strong leadership and cross-sector working.

The programme consists of two phases of research and creative thinking :

Phase 1: Mapping 
An atlas of maps has been produced to uncover what Thurrock is – its existing activities, landscapes, communities and history. Introductory essays by the environmentalist Chris Baines and the writer Ken Worpole were commissioned and three artists were asked to respond to specific sites and issues to open up the debate. Additionally, eight international case studies have been showcased to demonstrate a range of exemplary projects and methodologies that are relevant to the future of the Thames Gateway.

Phase 2: Charrettes 
Three intensive multi-disciplinary workshops (charrettes) focused on creative responses to the regeneration of Thurrock. These involved leading international architects, artists, environmentalists, writers and experts in community engagement. The participants were advised by stakeholders and residents who provided an insight into local perceptions and values. The groups examined three areas of particular importance to Thurrock:

1. The Thames at Purfleet
2. The Greenbelt
3. Culture and creativity

The workshops took place on the 24th, 25th and 26th May 2004.

Outcomes
The programme has resulted in principles, ideas and visionary briefs to inform the forthcoming regeneration of Thurrock. Change on this scale involves many agencies and must also work with existing initiatives. These briefs and proposals will inform the future frameworks developed by the cross-agency client partnerships.

Presentations
The initial outcomes were presented to government ministers, local and national agencies, local decision-makers, stakeholders and representatives from the private sector at a presentation on 30th June 2004 in the Cruise Terminal Building in Tilbury Port. A second presentation was made at the Government’s Sustainable Communities Summit in February 2005.

Thurrock: A Visionary Brief in the Thames Gateway is produced by General Public Agency on behalf of the following partners: Thurrock Council, Arts Council England East, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, The Countryside Agency, East of England Development Agency, Essex County Council, Government Office for the East of England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Living East, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Sport England East, Thames Gateway South Essex.