UK’s growth depends on building consensus for infrastructure

Jason Millett

At last week’s London Infrastructure Summit, there was general agreement (dare I say consensus!) that businesses, politicians and local communities need to work together to see London’s planned infrastructure projects come to fruition.

Two years on, there’s still so much we can learn from London 2012, which really created a blueprint for infrastructure delivery not just in the UK, but across the world. Building consensus is just one of these lessons, but to make it truly effective, there need to be a number of vital ingredients:

Long term plan 

We had a clear plan for London 2012 from bid right through to legacy and beyond. Recent GLA projections show London’s population will reach 10 million by the 2030s and 11.3 million in 2050, an overall increase of 37% by 2050.

The GLA is taking steps in the right direction to manage this growth by developing a London Infrastructure Plan that will have a clear integrated approach and vision up to 2050. But we need to be ambitious, not just tinker around the edges; as a member of the GLA’s Infrastructure Investment Panel, I can see we’re already moving in the right direction, but we must be bold and push harder.

Cross-party buy-in 

This is imperative to get major infrastructure delivered. Political jostling and major programmes changing radically when a new Government or Council is elected shortens certainty and ultimately put off investors and businesses looking to make long term investments – something we should be encouraging.

But it’s not just buy-in from the top that’s needed; for London’s infrastructure plans to succeed, buy-in from all levels of London government, from the London Assembly Members to councillors, the Mayor and London MPs will be crucial. If we’re planning for the capital up to 2050, then political consensus will be key to its success or failure – we’re all in it together.


Getting the right people and the right teams was essential in London 2012. The senior team appointed for the ODA was important as they built confidence in the project and inspired the best people to want to follow them and join the programme. 

By having strong leadership – including an inspirational Minister for London – will be vital to ensure London’s long term plan is a success.


Long term sustainable employment and leaving a lasting legacy through infrastructure development is vital. Legacy was crucial to London winning the 2012 Games and we’ve seen the success of this programme; the Park has now been transformed and will be opening on 5 April, bringing massive benefits to this once deprived area of East London.

We must start thinking now of the legacy benefits of infrastructure to London and the rest of the UK; by supporting other cities we would gain more support and build wider consensus from the rest of the UK for London’s development.

So what now?

For the business community we need to work together to ensure that London and central government remain committed to the major infrastructure projects this city needs to continue to grow and thrive.

Jason Millett is chief operating officer, major programmes and infrastructure at Mace

(London First Infrastructure Summit - Infrastructure Intelligence editor Antony Oliver's view is here)