Putting infrastructure back on the map

Jeremy Blackburn

Head of UK Policy (RICS)

The Government has taken a major step towards putting British infrastructure back on the map. From our railways to our roads, we now have in place a clear timetable for the delivery of vital infrastructure projects. We cannot underestimate the security this will bring to investors, and I have every confidence that the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan will drive growth in a sector vital to UK plc.

RICS Infrastructure Conference

For too long, the future of Britain’s biggest infrastructure projects have been pushed into the long grass, and we've lacked clear direction around timelines for crucial projects such as HS3 and Crossrail 2. But now, that uncertainty looks set to end. We have been calling for publication of the plan since last May, and this announcement is a hugely welcome - if long-awaited development.

National Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Housing surprise

As a word of caution, we are surprised that housing has been tied in with an infrastructure plan. These are both important and very separate issues. The housing crisis, be it the delivery of new social housing for affordable rents or the construction of homes for private ownership, should be afforded a plan in its own right if the Government truly wants to prove its credentials in this field.

Infrastructure and Devolved

Moreover when it comes to infrastructure, we cannot forget the importance of encouraging investment in some of our smaller regional projects. We would like to see in the coming months, Government working with Transport for the North and devolved cities on the publication of an ‘infrastructure investment catalogue’ – a tool that would target potential investors, such as challenger banks and  pensions funds, encouraging them to view the opportunities available to finance smaller but equally important ventures, allowing a truly rounded infrastructure strategy.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the future hub airport. We would be naïve to assume that we will see any announcement ahead of the London Mayoral elections, but it is none-the-less surprising that a National Infrastructure Delivery Plan avoids mention of the biggest issue facing British infrastructure today.

The next step for Government must be to come to a clear decision around the future hub, and ensure that our aerospace network continues to be fit to allow us to grow as a global economy.

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