Housing makes first appearance in Infrastructure Delivery Plan


Senior industry figures have welcomed the Government’s decision to include housing in its National Infrastructure delivery Plan, which was launched at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London today. It was published alongside a new Government Construction Strategy  in a slew of announcements as ministers cleared their desks before the Easter break and a period of purdah leading up to local elections.

The new construction strategy 2016-2020 pledged to deliver £1.7bn worth of savings by 2020 – both documents coming from the newly formed Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

The Infrastructure Delivery Plan meanwhile, incorporating what in previous incarnations was called the National Infrastructure Pipeline, sets out the government’s priorities for infrastructure for the next five years. This sets out £483bn worth of work in over 600 major projects and programmes- including £100bn government investment to 2021 and beyond. 

Sir John Armitt said the inclusion of the government housing strategy which includes the release of public land to deliver 160,000 homes was a very positive move and was in line with the National Infrastructure Commission’s thinking. “I’ve long been of the opinion that the challenges facing the delivery of new homes will not be overcome without overt government involvement and this provides a signal that government sees that it has a major role to play.”

Richard Trelfall, head of infrastructure at KPMG agreed: “I’m glad housing is in there it provides an indication of government commitment. Housing needs to be treated as a project is gives it a focus.

 The chapter on housing pulls together current policy and commitments with emphasis of how new infrastructure will unlock major new housing sites including the Bicester Garden town and a new garden city at Ebbsfleet and pledge to build 200,000 Starter Homes - a consultation on these plabns was also launched today. Social infrastructure including the building of new schools and prisons was also included.

Asked about uncertainty over energy policy and government’s seeming lack of commitment to green energy following a series of U-turns, Treasury Minister Lord O Neill, who spoke at the launch said: “We are committed to making sure Hinkley Point C goes ahead and that’s partly due to our climate change obligations.”

“One of the reasons for the creation of an independent National Infrastructure Commission was because of energy. We do need to think more strategically about that issue.” There was also more affirmation for the exploration of small modular reactors, following the announcement in the budget of a competition to design this new technology. 

Commerical Secretary to the Treasury Lord O’Neill said he was intrigued by SMRs “I’m seen to see a lot more exploration. We can produce these in the UK and export to the rest of the world.”

The publication of this plan has been welcomed generally by the infrastructure sector. Dr Nelson Ogunshakin chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering said: "The publication of the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan represents the culmination of five years of work by ACE and the wider industry, which has championed the creation and development of the plan. The focus of the plan is very much on delivery and the industry is ready and willing to work with Government to secure successful delivery.

“It provides the industry with a firm set of projects with which to plan and allocate resources for, while allowing the government to seek the international investment that is now central to delivery.

“But while the plan is progressive and combines both social with economic infrastructure projects, it does have a significant flaw in that it only covers projects in England and lacks a wider UK perspective.  More needs to be done to establish a clear picture of the UK’s needs, as a whole, and a compilation of projects is developed to ensure both the industry and the relevant government is held to account for an integrated delivery for UK"

Meanwhile other aspirations in the new construction strategy include:

•Using its spend to make sure 20,000 construction apprentices are hired, by 2020.

•A pledge to consolidate level 2 BIM with a gradual uptake of BIM level 3 with the development of new standards and procedures to make this possible.

•Enabling and driving whole-life approaches to cost and carbon reduction across the construction, operation and maintenance of public sector buildings and infrastructure.

The strategy for 2016-2021 builds on the previous one drawn up by Paul Morrell’s last strategy in 2011 and includes the radical plan to mandate Building Information Modelling in all government contracts to increase efficiencies. This mandate comes into force in England next month.