Interview: Richard Hicks from Medway Council
Wed 16th January 2019, 9:48 am
Why will Richard Hicks, Medway Councilís director of regeneration, culture, environment and transformation, be at Sitematch this year?
Can you say something about your role and responsibilities at the council?
I have responsibility for a number of services across Medway Council. These include:
• The front line services division, which provides essential services for our customers and residents, such as waste, safer communities, highways and transport.
• The transformation division, which is involved with all change projects across the council, seeking to establish Medway as a smart city, fit for the future.
• The physical and cultural regeneration division, which is key to delivering our monumental regeneration programme and delivering one of the largest free events and festivals programmes in the country.
Why will you be going to Sitematch?
We will be promoting Medway as a great place to live, work, learn and visit; highlighting our rich heritage and great future. We are keen to put Medway on the map, and attract inward investment to the area.
What are the key opportunities in Medway?
There are many. However, we have two key opportunities that we are keen to promote.
We will be submitting our business case for our housing infrastructure fund bid, worth £170 million. This scheme will unlock the potential for 12,100 new homes on the peninsula, and this funding will assist with the infrastructure required to support the development of this new settlement for Medway. We will be investing £86 million on roads, £67 million on rail improvements – which will include a new train station at Hoo – and £17 million on social infrastructure, which will include green spaces, as well as new leisure, health and education facilities.
We are also progressing our Innovation Park Medway at Rochester Airport, which will unlock 1,300 high value, high GVA employment opportunities in Medway. We have already established Innovation Centre Medway, with support from the University of Greenwich, one of our four universities, and BAE Systems, one of our leading companies; and we are keen to encourage our local businesses to grow and retain their skills here in Medway.
What are you looking for you in private sector partners?
We are keen for private sector partners to have an understanding of Medway’s rich heritage and great future, and our placemaking agenda, with the ultimate goal being inward investment. We are keen to encourage new businesses to establish themselves in Medway, benefitting from our fast train connectivity to the capital and the continent.
What, in your view, is the greatest obstacle that needs to be overcome to deliver more affordable homes in Medway and the Thames Estuary?
Our challenge, which is reflected nationally, is the lack of infrastructure to support new housing development, which is one of the reasons we are progressing our housing infrastructure fund bid for £170 million.
Delivery timescales are critical; Medway’s planning service has been described as ‘lightning fast’ by a national developer, and we are supportive of new companies such as Tophat, providing precision-engineered homes, built off-site in eight hours and completed on-site within six hours.