More joined up planning is required to deliver infrastructure investments.
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has warned that a failure to adopt a more joined-up approach to planning the UK’s towns and cities will make it impossible to meet the challenges of climate change, population growth and environmental risks over the coming decades.
A report, ‘A Smarter Approach to Infrastructure Planning’, launched on 26th September 2019, highlights the complex and fragmented approaches to planning infrastructure such as transport, energy, water, schools and hospitals.
The report calls on government to devolve powers and funding for infrastructure and recommends that local authorities establish dedicated teams focused solely on infrastructure coordination.
The study was carried out by the University of the West of England in partnership with Peter Brett Associates (now part of Stantec).
Earlier this month, Chancellor Sajid Javid announced more than £600m of new infrastructure funding in his Spending Review.
James Harris, policy and networks manager at the RTPI, said: “While we welcome more funding for infrastructure, politicians need to focus on more joined-up planning to integrate this into our villages, towns and cities. There is an urgent need to upgrade much of the country’s existing infrastructure so we can reach net zero carbon, respond to growing environment risks such as flooding and overheating, accommodate population and demographic change and enable sustainable development of residential, commercial and industrial space.
“The priorities of government and infrastructure providers are currently too focused on service delivery rather than addressing strategic and place-based challenges.”
Hannah Hickman, Senior Research Fellow at the University of the West of England, said: “Central government needs to show greater leadership by setting a strategic direction for infrastructure and addressing the negative impacts of a ‘deal’ based approach to infrastructure funding. It should also examine how early engagement between local authorities, providers and other stakeholders can be facilitated, to ensure that infrastructure and land use is effectively planned.”
A recent report by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) revealed that 60% of British adults would support more local housebuilding if new infrastructure networks were built at the same time.
Chris Richards, ICE’s head of policy and public affairs, said: “The principles for good planning, set out in RTPI’s report, provide a solid pathway for improving the way local infrastructure is delivered. Finding ways to unlock the potential of our infrastructure networks in order to deliver improved outcomes for local communities and businesses is an important way forward.”