Connectivity crucial for vision for the North

motorway connectivity

The government’s vision for the North as an economic powerhouse will not be realised without significant improvements in connectivity, according to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

In its response to the National Infrastructure Commission consultation on connecting northern cities, ICE’s Northern Powerhouse Panel welcomed the drive to boost growth in the North. But it said the North needs faster and more frequent transport services between cities and within cities, and better connections to outer city areas.

The ICE Panel has backed a mix of small scale investments and more transformational transport projects, but warns against progressing individual projects in isolation. It urged Government to adopt a “whole network” approach, where investment is based on a comprehensive, integrated strategy.

Richard Threlfall, chair of the ICE panel and head of infrastructure at KPMG, said: “The growth opportunity for the North of England is huge, but it will simply not fully prosper as one economy without significant improvements in connectivity. There is much to be done – spend on new transport infrastructure in the North has lagged behind London and average spend across the UK regions for decades. But it’s not just about investment; we need to think differently about how and where investment is allocated, we need to adopt a more strategic approach which considers the entire network and delivers maximum benefit.

“We would also like to see a host of system improvements driven forward - such as an integrated ticketing system for the North, simpler fare structures and integrated timetables. Relatively quick and low cost improvements like this will enable the North to look, feel and operate as a single economic powerhouse," he said.

On Thursday this week, Lord Heseltine will address a summit which will map out a new infrastructure plan for the Northern Powerhouse. The Northern Summit, which takes place in Leeds on 14 January, is being hosted by IPPR North and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) to present the initial findings from their Great North Plan consultation.

Click here for our preview of this event.