The economic regeneration of the North East region to create growth and jobs requires better provision for getting to and from and around the region.
We also need improved telecommunications and the provision of site services such as energy and waste. The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (‘NELEP’) conference last Friday considered the Adonis Economic Review which emphasised these matters. The review is now being considered by the seven local councils (‘LA7’) which is with the NELEP seeking to determine a North East Strategic Economic Plan. One outcome from the conference was a call for a clear plan for the delivery of infrastructure and partnership between the public and private sectors, linked with a highly focussed approach to delivery.
This resonates with the Independent Armitt Review of delivering Infrastructure in the UK which was published by the Labour Party last week. Sir John’s recommendation of an independent infrastructure commission to develop and monitor the delivery of infrastructure needs of the UK would bring confidence to the industry, attract investment and provide a clear and targeted project pipeline.
However, we must also focus on delivery in the here and now. RICS calls on the government to break down blockages to current infrastructure projects, put in place the mechanisms to enable the efficient delivery of stalled projects, and to make the repair, maintenance and upgrading of the UK’s current transport and energy network a priority.
Any commission, in the short or long term, must have the authority and the teeth to challenge the government on project priorities and delivery timelines. If the UK is to build its global competiveness, the focus must be on ensuring all projects are delivered at an Olympics-like pace – authorised, funded and implemented at speed, on time and on budget.
Earlier this year, I along with about 20 other cross construction and property surveyors discussed with Peter Hansford (the Government’s Chief Construction Advisor) matters that affected the delivery (or the lack of it) of construction and infrastructure projects in the region. He suggested that the North East follow best practice of the North West and set up a regional infrastructure project pipeline and hub.
This is in process, initially with RICS, plus the Institute of Civil Engineers and the Construction Industry Council (North East branch). We have had one meeting with the NELEP who were positive about going forward and how this could help the region.
It is therefore gratifying to see the whole picture coming together with the LA7 and proposed Combined Authority, linked with the NELEP working with the RICS and other professional bodies to facilitate delivery.
Also key is funding, and here the NELEP Investment Fund can come more strongly into play with access to finance, European Funds and government infrastructure funding to help fund both strategic regional needs and site specific requirements.
:: Kevan Carrick is a partner at JK Property Consultants LLP and policy spokesman for RICS North East, member of: G9; the NE LEP Investment Fund Panel; and of the External Advisory Group for the North East Strategic Economic Plan.