Economy and Infrastructure

11.03.19

National Infrastructure Commission: Progressing the North

Source: PSE Feb/March 2019

The National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) National Infrastructure Assessment was released in July 2018, making a variety of recommendations ranging from digital technology growth to making the switch to low-carbon energy sources. Professor Sadie Morgan, commissioner at the NIC, delves deeper into how northern cities can be improved for generations to come.

It’s no wonder that the heritage of the north of England is recognised the world over. Few places can rival the mark the north has made on the arts, design, and culture – and that’s before we even consider its place as the cradle of industry.

From Channel 4 setting up its new headquarters in Leeds to companies like Microsoft and Google opening offices in Manchester, there’s a renewed buzz in the north. However, like most of the country, its cities are suffering from congestion, with transport networks under strain, declining air quality, and greater pressure put on local housing markets.

That’s why in our High-Speed North report we highlighted the strong case for an integrated road and rail strategy, including Northern Powerhouse Rail. While this would be transformational for improving connectivity between cities, it should be complemented by further investment to ensure passengers can travel seamlessly within cities too. 

More recently, the Commission published its inaugural National Infrastructure Assessment, setting out how the UK’s infrastructure needs can be met across a 30-year time horizon.

One of our key recommendations is that by 2040, cities outside London should receive £43bn of extra funding, coupled with further powers. Cities need stable long-term infrastructure budgets. However, forced to grapple with a patchwork of different funding sources, leaders lack the certainty they need to look further into the future, stymying the possibility of more ambitious schemes. The measures we’re proposing would give leaders in the north the tools they need to develop integrated strategies for transport, housing, and employment.

To demonstrate how this could make a real impact, we’ve launched our cities programme, which will include events across the country to help councils share knowledge and expertise. We’re also working more closely to help five “case study” areas devise long-term plans, including the Liverpool City Region and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. We will be offering bespoke advice about how these places can address the unique transport difficulties they face locally and how investment can be used to unlock much-needed homes.

This isn’t a challenge that’s confined to the north, or even our case study cities – we see it in every corner of the country. Indeed, one example is the Arc spanning Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford. This is hardly somewhere thought of as struggling – not least because it’s home to some of the UK’s most productive and fast-growing cities. But it’s an area that, with world-beating universities and cutting-edge tech industries, is in high demand and, as such, suffers from an overburdened infrastructure network and a lack of affordable homes.

The detailed recommendations we made may be specific to that area – but there is still a common thread that could apply elsewhere: that new transport projects should not be planned in isolation and must be used to maximum possible effect to deliver housing and new communities, for existing residents and those who come later.

Looking to the future, the government is due to formally respond to our assessment later in the year through its National Infrastructure Strategy. This will mark a critical moment for our northern cities.

Devolution is proving to be a success, with four metro mayors in the north of England overseeing visionary plans to upgrade their cities’ transport connections. It’s clear that local representatives know their communities better than anyone, so we want cities across the north – both large and small – to benefit in the same way. I hope now that ministers will implement our recommendations and empower local leaders to be the architects of their own destinies.

 

Enjoying PSE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Wiltshire Council withdraws £20m plans to close special schools and reopens consultation

26/03/2019Wiltshire Council withdraws £20m plans to close special schools and reopens consultation

Wiltshire Council has announced it is extending its consultation on controversial plans to restructure its special education services and has wit... more >
South Yorkshire leaders make breakthrough in £30m devolution deal

26/03/2019South Yorkshire leaders make breakthrough in £30m devolution deal

The four South Yorkshire council leaders and mayor Dan Jarvis have announced a “breakthrough” in the stalled devolution deal for Shef... more >
Council leader reinstated after online Tommy Robinson comments amid Tory Islamophobia row

26/03/2019Council leader reinstated after online Tommy Robinson comments amid Tory Islamophobia row

The Conservative council leader who was suspended for sharing a message supporting far-right activist Tommy Robinson has now been re-instated by ... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Wiltshire Council withdraws £20m plans to close special schools and reopens consultation

26/03/2019Wiltshire Council withdraws £20m plans to close special schools and reopens consultation

Wiltshire Council has announced it is extending its consultation on controversial plans to restructure its special education services and has withdrawn its decision to close three special schools... more >
South Yorkshire leaders make breakthrough in £30m devolution deal

26/03/2019South Yorkshire leaders make breakthrough in £30m devolution deal

The four South Yorkshire council leaders and mayor Dan Jarvis have announced a “breakthrough” in the stalled devolution deal for Sheffield City Region. After “years of impa... more >

the raven's daily blog

Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

18/03/2019Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, outlines his organisation’s campaign to make sure local government tops to government’s list for this year’s Spending Review. Our #CouncilsCan campaign to influence this year’s Spending Review is well underway and gathering momentum. The money local governm... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Camberley inspired: investment and regeneration

11/03/2019Camberley inspired: investment and regeneration

The decline of the Great British high street has been one of the greatest concerns for local councils in recent years, leading to some innovative... more >
Swindon's solar-powered recycling centre saves council cash

11/03/2019Swindon's solar-powered recycling centre saves council cash

Steve Cains, head of power solutions at Public Power Solutions, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Swindon Borough Council, describes the benefits of... more >
National Infrastructure Commission: Progressing the North

11/03/2019National Infrastructure Commission: Progressing the North

The National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) National Infrastructure Assessment was released in July 2018, making a variety of recommenda... more >
SARS II: Recovery made easy

11/03/2019SARS II: Recovery made easy

Paul Bentley, of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), introduces us to the Spend Analysis Recovery Framework: a no win no fee means of carrying ou... more >

interviews

Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

public sector focus

View all News