Sir Stuart Lipton, deputy chairman of Chelsfield Partners, compared the Thames Gateway with the Rockefeller Centre, the Champs-Élysées, and ancient Rome as he set out his vision for the area’s future.

He said the government should commit to making sure that the Thames Gateway is a great place and achieves its full potential.

‘At the moment the region is dressed in rags,’ he said. ‘Will this be one of the biggest projects in UK history that has been dumbed down by Noddy architecture? Can it be turned into a really great place?’

Lipton was speaking at a panel discussion at the Thames Gateway Forum in Essex alongside: Lend Lease chairman Nigel Hugill; chairman of the Thames Gateway Judith Armitt; head of professional services at Jones Lang LaSalle Andrew Gould; and director of the National Audit Office David Corner.

The session was chaired by Property Week editor Giles Barrie.

He added: ‘Every great project needs to have a message and the message is quality. The government from the prime minister down need to get their act together. This project needs to be delivered with love and care and not plans and pages.’

Lend Lease’s Hugill agreed and called for the government to commit to community and civic facilities such as schools, health facilities and education centres in the Thames Gateway.

‘The plans going forward have become confused by the sheer scale of the area,’ he said.

‘I saw people standing around the model of the Thames Gateway with a look of puzzlement on their faces. What the government needs to do is to pick out five or six areas for regeneration and target them.’

Armitt responded to criticisms from the panel and said that the government at the highest levels was committed to delivering the scheme.

‘You will see by the end of the day that there is commitment from the very highest level. It doesn’t get any better than that,’ she said. ‘I did not come into this job to sit around writing plans. I came here to deliver the Thames Gateway.’

She had set up a £35m start up fund to be invested in city square style developments but said the majority of the £43bn investment would have to come from the private sector.