ICE warns that powerhouse plan depends on major transport improvements
The government’s vision for the North as an economic powerhouse will not be fully realised without significant improvements in connectivity, according to the ICE.
In its response to the National Infrastructure Commission consultation on connecting northern cities, the ICE’s Northern Powerhouse Panel welcomed progress on devolution,and the growing success of individual northern cities.
But it said the North would struggle to compete internationally as a single economic zone without faster, more frequent transport services between cities and within cities, and better connections to outer city areas where manufacturing, universities and science parks are located.
The Panel backed a mix of small scale investments and more transformational transport projects to address the North’s connectivity issues, but warned against progressing individual projects in isolation. It urged ministers to adopt a “whole network” approach, where investment is based on a comprehensive, integrated strategy.
Richard Threlfall who is chair of the ICE panel and head of infrastructure at KPMG, said: “The benefits of integrated connectivity are far reaching – it facilitates the fast and easy exchange of people, goods, knowledge, skills and services.It creates thriving economichubs that can compete internationally.
“The growth opportunity for the North is huge, but it will not fully prosper as a 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.
”The government is developing the concept of the Northern powerhouse as an economic growth region, which could correct economic imbalances between the North and southern England.