Tomorrow (13 October) in Birmingham, the Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) will be unveiling the first National Infrastructure Plan (NIP).
Lord Adonis will come together with city mayors Khan, Street and others to set out a view on priorities for UK infrastructure and how they can be realised.
What would I like to see in the NIP? For me, the key concepts that should feature are inclusivity, collaboration, a long-term view and a strong focus on outcomes.
In the UK, we’re entering a period of massive technological change and the remit of the NIC places it front and centre for the strategic thinking required to achieve truly transformational change.
The NIC is perfectly placed to provide the leadership, framework and direction of travel required to deliver future growth.
So what I’d like to see in Adonis’ plan is an emphasis on:
- Collaboration – devolution has seen the formation of regional governance arrangements that will be responsible for the delivery of the infrastructure requirements of the UK over the next 25 years. NIC needs to consult these cities and regions to understand what they require in terms of support from national government and make recommendations to see this is put in place. National government should be enabler for the economic growth of these regions. Effective collaboration is vital.
- Regional inclusivity – we cannot get away from the fact that that some regions perform better than others. A key challenge for the NIP will be to identify the infrastructure required to see growth in all regions of the UK and ensure that no one gets left behind.
- Integration – we already have the Industrial Strategy and DfT is soon to publish its Smart Cities Strategy. The NIP should identify and bring together the various government strategies into a single integrated strategy for growth. That will bring clarity and certainty.
- ‘Smart’ cities and settlements – the NIP should confirm the role that new ‘smart’ settlements along key infrastructure corridors (improved or new) can play as mechanisms for the delivery of new housing and economic growth. At Barton Willmore, we’re committed to the principle of infrastructure-led planning. The NIP should at the very least recommend that a call for evidence is issued by Government as a precursor to a National Policy Statement. Why shouldn’t new settlements have the option of using the DCO regime?
- Embracing big data – the NIP needs to identify the infrastructure required to ensure that the vast array of opportunities presented by big data and the Internet of Things are realised to create a ‘Smart UK’. This is critical in the wake of Brexit and a need to be competitive on a global stage.
NIC’s work to date has already generated significant debate and the NIP is a chance to take this to the next level and effect real change.
Here’s hoping for some content and substance that rises to the challenge. We’ll be watching with interest.
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