Northern Powerhouse at risk of stalling - report

30 May 2019, 06:17 | Updated: 30 May 2019, 06:19

Liverpool Waters

Further progress on the Northern Powerhouse could be hampered by a lack of joined-up planning, according to a new report.

The Ambitions for the North document says significant advances have been made by a number of government and other organisations to drive forward the project but warns the current "fragmented and under-resourced planning of the North" must be addressed head on.

The report is being launched by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) on Thursday in Leeds with a keynote speech by Lord Heseltine.

It says that government departments, Transport for the North, NP11, combined authorities and other bodies have made significant progress but their individual plans need to be knitted together into a coherent whole.

It calls for an overarching spatial vision for the whole of the North, supported by strategies similar to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

The report concludes that this would also allow the North to address the needs of settlements outside the influence of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse rail developments, such as coastal towns and deep rural areas.

Ambitions for the North also recommends a strategic review of housing in the North; the development of a ports, logistics, airports and industrial strategy for the North and the development of plans for national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty integrated to these other strategies.

RTPI president Ian Tant said: "At a time when the North looks set to receive unprecedented levels of investment, we must think hard about how to capitalise on this to ensure that change benefits everyone over the long term.

"Entrenched ways of delivering housing and infrastructure through silo working will only repeat mistakes of the past.

"This is the moment to reinvest in good planning - from the most local level to strategically across boundaries - to create not only a prosperous North but greener, healthier, more inclusive and sustainable places that people proudly call home."

The report was compiled by Peter Brett Associates and the University of Newcastle, on behalf of the RTPI. It is part of the Great North Plan, which the institute and the think-tank IPPR North initiated in 2015.

Lord Heseltine said: "I was proud to launch the original blueprint for a Great North Plan with IPPR North and the RTPI in 2016.

"This demonstrated a real commitment and capacity for the North to take charge of its destiny.

"We've come a long way since then with the publication of the North's first strategic transport plan, and the emergence of new metro mayors.

"But with Westminster fully occupied by Brexit, and pressing challenges facing northern communities, there is little room for complacency. The ambitions set out by the RTPI show the contribution that joined-up planning can make to creating a more productive, inclusive and resilient North."

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Re-balancing the economy so it works for everyone is at the heart of our ambition for the Northern Powerhouse.

"We're investing over £13 billion to improve transport - more than any government in history. Through our pioneering devolution agenda, we're also ensuring more decisions about the north are made by the north.

"We're delivering historic levels of investment to build affordable homes, reviving our coastal communities and providing new employment opportunities too. But we can't be complacent.

"This year, we'll publish a new Northern Powerhouse Strategy to bring together the powers of government, northern businesses and local leaders with a renewed focus on growth. We'll continue to work hand-in-hand with our partners across the public and private sectors to support a flourishing Northern Powerhouse."