Thames Gateway project drafts in Biss Lancaster

Europe’s largest house-building project has brought in a PR agency to lure investors and reassure the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) of its efficiency.

London Thames Gateway Development Corporation has hired Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster to promote the development of houses and businesses in the area.

Biss Lancaster won a five-way pitch for the project. Part of the PR role is to smooth relations with interested parties. A report from think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research has highlighted concerns among residents that some of the new housing is 'monotonous and characterless'. The response to the criticism involves giving corporation  chief executive Peter Andrews a greater public role.

'Andrews is a great public face for the development,' said Biss Lancaster account manager Darrell Connel. 'We want to make him the Thames Gateway equivalent of Sir Richard Branson so he can communicate the benefits of developments.'

Biss Lancaster corporate and B2B managing director Belinda Taylor will lead the account, reporting to the corporation's head of comms Martin Venning.

'We need to communicate our strategy,' said Venning. 'There are a lot of interested parties and complex political structures to overcome.'

Around 160,000 homes are expected to be built over the next ten years.

* The ODPM has defended its image after a leaked Mori report appeared in a national newspaper, criticising the department's PR. 'More people speak favourably about the office than two years ago,' said a spokesman.

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