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Tony Blair’s decision to authorise the multibillion-pound expansion of a ‘linear city’ along 40 miles of the Thames to Essex and Kent (known as the Thames Gateway) in 2003 continues to cause controversy. In one of the biggest regeneration programmes undertaken in the UK, the project could lead to 200,000 new houses over the next 15 years. However, in 2005, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) indicated that 85,000 houses in the Thames Gateway would have to be built with living spaces on the first floor because of the risk of flooding.

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