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Viewpoint: Shaping the strategy

ICE East of England regional director John Canton on how his divison is addressing the challenges facing the region.

Geography dictates the East of England as one of the ICE’s most scattered and diffusely populated regions covering Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Peterborough.

Technically speaking the last one is in Cambridgeshire but you will rarely find the county on a Peterborough address.

For many, the town is still the Soke of Peterborough which it was for at least 1,000 years until boundary changes in 1965.

For others the region is thought of as mainly agricultural, yet there are large areas of manufacturing and industry such as Luton, albeit less so since Vauxhall scaled down.

Getting to places takes time, thus major roads crisscrossing the region (M1, M11, A1, A12, A14, A47) are seeing increasing demand in terms of traffic and in terms of the need for funding.

“The scale of growth of infrastructure is breathtaking and resultant pressure demands major investment.”

The A14 links the east coast ports to the Midlands and beyond via the M1. There has been long debate and modular study to decide on how best to improve the A14 and the recently announced public inquiries will delay the process further.

Felixstowe is one of the world’s largest container ports and with the Thames Gateway also growing, the demand for supporting infrastructure is becoming urgent.
The government’s demand for nearly three quarters of a million new homes across the region only adds to this.

The scale of growth is breathtaking and resultant pressure on all infrastructure demands major investment.

ICE East of England has played a major role in several strategies to implement development - the Regional Spatial Strategy, the Regional Economic Strategy, the East of England Implementation Plan which brought the two initial strategies together, followed by mid-term reviews.

At every consultation stage the ICE has made submissions and recommendations, many of which have been included in the final documents. For those in the region living near the coast, rising sea levels are a major concern and there is a need for radical thinking to protect homes and businesses from being taken by the sea in the years to come.

Our two conferences are “Is East Anglia worth saving from the sea?” and “Is Low Carbon Sustainable Development possible? A Conference for Built Environment Professionals.”

At times of flooding, major trunk roads are also affected with great impact on transport and businesses. This issue will not go away and so on 29 April the subject of our annual lunch time debate in Ipswich is: Is East Anglia worth saving from the sea? We advertised it at the start of January, and before the end of the month it was sold out with a waiting list.

Every year since 2006 we have staged an autumn conference with a sustainability theme. So far we have tackled transport, zero carbon construction, water efficiency and last year construction waste - all working in partnership with other professional Institutions.

The title of this year’s conference at Duxford on 21 October is Is Low Carbon Sustainable Development Possible? A Conference for Built Environment Professionals.

To book or find out more email

  • John Canton is ICE East of England’s regional director

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