A leading scientist who has spent 50 years studying climate issues will play a key part in planning the £1bn Purfleet regeneration to ensure it has high environmental standards.

Developer Urban Catalyst announced on Wednesday that Professor Trevor Davies, former director of the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia, has been appointed as its chief sustainability advisor.

Mr Davies will not receive any financial benefits in his role but will help advise on a range of design aspects that centre around minimising the use of cars.

These include planning new how shops and workplaces can be placed within walking distance of homes, designing bike storage and electric charge points, and implementing 20mph speed limits.

Assessments will also be carried out on public transport links, with a specific focus on Purfleet station.

Professor Trevor Davies said: “Sustainability has fallen up and down the agenda for the past few decades but there is now a clear potential for building on the widespread change in attitudes during the pandemic.

“Lockdown has made many realise the negative effects we have on our environment as a species and in turn how that impacts our own health.

“I will be working closely with Urban Catalyst to see how use of technology - both at a large-scale but also at a more granular level - combined with intelligent urban design can create places that are more sustainable, resilient and healthier, and I am delighted to have been appointed as the firm’s chief sustainability adviser.”

Ken Dytor, executive chairman of Urban Catalyst, said there has never been a better time to ensure developments move in a way that is environmentally friendly.

He said: “People are realising how interlinked environmental and public health issues are in lockdown and already we are seeing more and more cities push ahead to make themselves greener and cleaner.

“Creating places that promote sustainable and healthy living has always been our aim and by having Professor Davies onboard as an adviser we hope to benefit from his immense expertise and knowledge and find real world applications for his research and long-standing interest in carbon reduction to our developments.”

Thurrock Council declared a climate emergency in October, pledging to go carbon neutral by 2030. In December the British Heart Foundation named the borough one of the most polluted areas in the country and said living there is the equivalent of smoking almost 140 cigarettes a year.

Urban Catalyst is developing the £1bn Purfleet regeneration scheme alongside Swan Housing Association and Thurrock Council. It will include a new town centre with shops and restaurants, up to 2,850 new homes, health facilities a new primary school and film and TV production studios.