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Infrastructure & Projects Authority joins our April forum

Karl Fitzgerald, Project Director, Infrastructure & Projects Authority (image courtesy of IPA)

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Karl Fitzgerald, Project Director at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, will be contributing to our forum this month. Karl is a Project Director / Commercial Advisor in the Housing and Regeneration Delivery Team. He is a Chartered Engineer with over 25 years' experience in consultancy and the public sector. He has particular experience in infrastructure planning and master-planning for large scale development projects. He is also a Design Council / CABE Design Expert.

He advises government departments on major infrastructure programmes such as the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), HS2 Regeneration, Freeports and New Prisons Delivery. Previously at Homes England, he led the technical specialist team for the Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS) acting as as a advisor to a range of public and private sector stakeholders, engaged in the planning and construction of major mixed-use developments, and new communities. He was also responsible for technical direction to major initiatives such as the new settlement at Northstowe, and the Hospital Sites Programme for the Homes and Communities Agency.

Karl will be joining the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, EDF Renewables, LDA Design, Grimshaw and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership among other contributors, where there will be discussion of new funding for better infrastructure and transport connectivity in the north of England and major infrastructure master plans in the south of the country.

The UK government recently announced 'a revolution in the country’s transport infrastructure will see billions of pounds redirected from spiralling HS2 costs to build the daily connections that people depend on – unlocking potential, driving growth and transforming communities.'

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, last October unveiled his vision to deliver the forms of transport that people use the most. He said:

'The new plans will radically improve travel between and within cities and towns, and around local areas – benefitting more people in more places, more quickly. 

'The cornerstone of this plan will be Network North which will drive better connectivity across the North and Midlands with faster journey times, increased capacity and more frequent, reliable services across rail, buses and roads. £36 billion will be invested in hundreds of transport projects across the country – with every region set to receive the same or more transport investment on an unprecedented scale as a result of the change.   A further £12 billion on top of this figure will be set aside for faster connectivity between Liverpool and Manchester.'

At Future Cities Forum's 'Innovation Cities' event at Here East last September, Stephen Dance, Head of the Commercial Adviser Team at the IPA was asked whether he felt that the UK is too slow on infrastructure delivery and whether the rolling back of HS2's northern leg would have a damaging effect on innovation districts in the North of England.

Stephen said:

'Yes, we are slow on infrastructure delivery in the UK but no slower than Europe. If you look at the success of the Elizabeth Line - although it has taken 25 years - it has been delivered. The planning system in France and Germany is a bit easier, but in a sense what other countries do is not really here nor there. Our planning system has ground to a halt and there are significant infrastructure projects mired up in dispute and that does need fixing. There are plans afoot to fix it and I think we do have good systems in place but there can be a lack of political direction which has impacted the investors' market and changes of direction have not helped.'

At the third Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP) Live summit which took place last November in London, Nick Smallwood, Chief Executive Officer at the IPA, said it is now crucial for government and industry to step up a gear to continue progression, as we still have a long way to go. Nick highlighted the need for all delivery to become ‘digital-by-default’, optimising all of our operations through the use of more sophisticated technology, data analytics, and AI.

He added that with sector productivity lagging and the impacts of climate change amplifying, we must “start to collaborate differently, work differently, take carbon out of infrastructure-build in significant amounts, and do things significantly more productively”.


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