Devolution and development
This article was originally published by ICE on 14 Oct 2016. It was written by Adrian Coy, ICE Vice President.
As the English mayoral elections in May 2017 and further rounds of regional devolution deals are announced, it is worthwhile considering the importance of developing regional strategies to ensure infrastructure remains at the heart of the emerging new political landscapes.
Devolution presents development opportunities at different levels to benefit the wider community. However, understanding where ultimate decision-making over the implementation and delivery of infrastructure policy should be located is imperative.
It is as important as establishing a system of identifying infrastructure need at appropriate political and economic levels.
 Local and regional
At a local level, development opportunities should be planned as they are currently by local authorities and the new combined authorities, with the business input of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs). Here, decision making should be around what directly affects the local communities such bodies represent.
At a regional level, the emerging concepts such as the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine have the potential to develop a regional industry strategy that links local development opportunities into a more cohesive sub-national plan.
For example, the new Midlands Connect partnership should be given the opportunity to not only develop a strategy for transport infrastructure that connects cities and hubs, but recognises the interconnectivity of all forms of infrastructure.
We should learn from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where holistic and long-term infrastructure plans are more advanced than anything we have in English regions.
As set out in ICE’s State of the Nation: Devolution report, developing long-term regional infrastructure strategies should bring together the infrastructure developers and providers to meet the growth needs of industry, developers and local communities; and should address resilience by encouraging collaboration.
However, realising growth through the infrastructure agenda of devolution will require improved skills provision: there is little point in planning new railways or power stations if there is not a trained workforce to build them.
Regional infrastructure pipelines identifying specific upcoming projects and providing foresight on skills and education requirements should be put in place alongside the regional infrastructure strategies.
Long term pipelines would provide regional contractors and their supply chain with increased certainty of workload so they can plan for growth and recruit and train the workforce of tomorrow. The pipelines would equally provide training providers with confidence to develop courses and resources.
These could be similar to the regularly updated National Infrastructure Pipeline, and combined authority level reports such as the Greater Manchester Construction Sector Pipeline Analysis for the north-west.
Decisions must be based on an understanding of local needs. Integration of services is easier to deliver on a local scale and securing vital public support for projects is more achievable when it is the same community that benefits.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Articles by ICE on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- City deals.
- Enterprise zones.
- Localism Act.
- Midlands Engine Strategy.
- National Infrastructure Commission NIC.
- National infrastructure plan.
- Northern Powerhouse transport blueprint.
- Overcoming the challenges of Brexit.
- State of the Nation: Devolution.
Featured articles and news
RSHP unveil their involvement in a boundary crossing which will provide a new entry point into Hong Kong.
With PFI currently under the spotlight due to Carillion, this introductory article explains what they are.
Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 small firms could be at risk of non-payment as a result of Carillion's collapse.
Sir Oliver Letwin to lead an independent review into the delays in the delivery of housing.
As Carillion collapses, read our article explaining insolvency in the construction industry.
43,000 jobs at risk as Carillion declares insolvency..
1961 saw the publication of three important books about urban design that remain relevant today.
Next week the planning fee increases by 20% and new fees are introduced.
How the transformative power of BIM and other digital technologies can be used to gain a competitive edge.
Relevant events and relevant matters are terms used in some contracts, but knowing the differences is important.
Government release statistics showing how many people are now on the property ladder due to Help to Buy schemes.