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Our infrastructure, energy and transport forum 2022

CGI of HS2 train crossing the Colne Valley viaduct (image from Jacobs)

This week we will be carrying out our 'Infrastructure, energy and transport 2022' forum with the Infrastructure & Projects Authority, investor and asset manager Amber Infrastructure, the North East Combined Authority, the Northern House Partnership, RSH+P, Historic England and BDP.

We will be discussing new infrastructure projects throughout the UK, reaction to the Government's Levelling Up Plan, protection of historic landscape and communities around new infrastructure, the development of station gateways to cities in the North and airport sustainability.

High on the discussion agenda for many people are recent revelations that the OxCam Arc is said to be no longer a priority for the government with other projects and levelling up plans taking precedence. The Financial Times published an article on Saturday stating that 'Boris Johnson's government has shelved a strategic plan to create a British rival to Silicon Valley around Oxford and Cambridge in order to prioritise "levelling up" spending in the north of England.'

However the article also stated that the government continued to recognise the importance of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc as a globally renowned hub of innovation and more information would be provided in due course on last year's public consultation.

In a Future Cities Forum discussion last May, the IPA's OxCam Arc Development Director Karl Fitzgerald said:

'When we talk about levelling up the North, perhaps we can be using lessons that we are learning in the Ox-Cam Arc - these could be transferable to the North of England. When there are multiple aspects of government working in a spatial way, you need flexibility. The benefits from one department could be transferred to another department.

'Investment in the Ox-Cam Arc is not attracting investment away from other parts of country. It is international investment that is being drawn into the Arc.'

The Northern Powerhouse has been blogging about the Levelling-up White Paper pointing up the 'rebalancing of our economy over the next decade, reversing generations of rising inequality across our country...that is why we are overhauling local public transport across the North, so it too operates like the successful model employed in London.'

Meanwhile there is concern that new station infrastructure moves forward in order to improve important gateways to cities in the North. The Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chief Executive of the North East Combined Authority, Cllr Graeme Miller, who will be joining our discussions this week, has been talking about the importance and impact of the new £26 million revamp of Sunderland's central train station:

'Sunderland is a city on the march. We're ambitious, we're focused and we're delivering the transformation needed to ensure we become the dynamic, vibrant, healthy smart city we want to be. The station - as a key arrival point - has to be a core part of our plan for Sunderland, and it is....enabling easy, sustainable travel into and out of Sunderland, connecting people to jobs and opportunities in a cleaner, greener way is critical if we want to level up the economy in the North East.'

Karl Fitzgerald also mentioned in our previous infrastructure forum the importance of creating sustainable places around transport with climate change in mind and at our forum this week, there will be contributions from Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners' Stephen Barratt on designing 'greener airports' and from Amber Infrastructure's Peter Radford on the green recovery of taxis post pandemic, BDP's Head of Transport Peter Jenkins will describe transport improvements in Greater Manchester, while Historic England's Tom Foxall will be discussing why it is so vital that historic landscapes and communities are protected around the drive on new infrastructure.



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