Time for a ‘Great Northern Plan’ to boost the region

A ‘GREAT North Plan’ could transform political rhetoric surrounding the Northern Powerhouse into the reality of a more prosperous North of England, it is claimed today.

A new report urges business and civic leaders to contribute towards the development of a spatial framework to help attract much-needed investment into northern infrastructure projects.

The call to action from the IPPR North think tank and Royal Town Planning Institute wants ideas from the brightest and best minds on what the plan should cover, including land use, energy, transport, water and population.

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Ed Cox, director at think tank IPPR North, said: “The North needs infrastructure projects capable of genuinely transforming the northern economy as it makes the journey from an industrial past to a more connected future.

“Investing in infrastructure is essential to competing in the global economy and driving economic growth.

“The Government’s focus on the Northern Powerhouse means the region has a unique opportunity to shape its destiny and tip the balance in the North’s favour.”

Public spending has been heavily skewed towards London over many years in spite of OECD research showing that money wisely invested in weaker economic regions can deliver higher rates of return.

The capital, with its dense infrastructure provision, is the overwhelming beneficiary of publicly leveraged investment, according to IPPR North.

The call for evidence is in line with the strategic spatial plan for Scotland, which has been developed in recent years to address how the Scottish economy can become more resilient, sustainable and connected. ​​

Bob Wolfe, from the RTPI, said: “The Northern Powerhouse offers immense opportunities for communities to work together and think beyond their own boundaries to create the housing, transport, infrastructure and environment that will benefit the whole of the North of England.”

Jonathan House, PwC lead for local government in the North, told The Yorkshire Post: “This is the evolution of devolution.

“It would be wrong to try to allow devolution to be driven from the centre and this approach will allow leaders to listen to the views of all those who will play an important part in the Northern Powerhouse and ensure its benefits.

“Decentralisation is critical to rebalancing the UK’s economy across the regions and if it is to achieve this aim of narrowing the gap between London and the UK regions it will be judged a success.”

Martin Jenkins, senior partner at Deloitte in Yorkshire and the North East, added: “This gives us another call to action for businesses, politicians, education leaders and other key stakeholders in ensuring that we put across the most compelling message that we can to Government that we have to convert all this into reality and secure the investment that we need to build that connected future.”

Kishor Tailer, chief executive of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We welcome opportunities for discussion to improve the overall infrastructure and connectivity for the North, especially at a time when further devolution of powers are promised.”