Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly has challenged the property industry to deliver thousands more homes for the Thames Gateway under a new plan that the government hopes will help generate £12bn annually to the UK economy

Kelly unveiled the government’s interim plan for the Gateway this week with a revised target of 160,000 new homes by 2016 – a rise of 40,000 on the government’s 2003 Sustainable Communities Plan.

The interim plan calls for the Gateway to set new standards in eco-friendly development and in design – councils will work with ‘local design champions’ to ‘root out poorly designed housing schemes’.

Speaking at the Thames Gateway Forum, Kelly delivered a thinly veiled attack on the development industry’s track record. ‘Some of the homes that have been built so far are just not up to scratch and we have to do better in the future,’ she said.

She added: ‘In the south east there are the twin problems of housing shortages and overcrowding. That’s why we are creating 160,000 new hopes over the next 10 years, with over a third of these homes designated as affordable housing.’

The plan aims to create 180,000 jobs in the region over the same period by promoting the ‘economic transformers’ of Canary Wharf, the Gateway’s ports and the 2012 Olympics site in Stratford.

Kelly also formally added Ebbsfleet valley in Kent as one of the government’s strategic Gateway locations for growth. Nearby Ashford had been the key Kent location until Eurostar announced it was switching its focus to its new Ebbsfleet station.