Government promises to publish national infrastructure strategy in 2019

BUDGET 2018 Ministers have pledged to publish next year a "comprehensive National Infrastructure Strategy" setting out the government's priorities for economic infrastructure.

New infrastructure: government says it will publish national strategy next year
New infrastructure: government says it will publish national strategy next year

The strategy will include a formal response to the National Infrastructure Commission's (NIC's) National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA), which was published in July.

The pledge was made in the Treasury's interim response to the NIA published today alongside the Budget.

In the document, the government described the NIA as an "ambitious, credible and long-term vision for the UK’s infrastructure" and said it would publish the National Infrastructure Strategy in response in 2019.

"This strategy will set out the government’s priorities for economic infrastructure and respond in depth to the NIC’s recommendations," it said.

The NIA made a series of planning-related recommendations including a call for city mayors to produce "integrated strategies for transport, employment and housing" which would be supported by "substantial devolved funding".

In its response, the government said it has "given mayoral combined authorities control of consolidated, multi-year transport budgets" and, in today's budget, "providing an extra £240 million to six metro mayors". However, it did not mention the "integrated strategies".

The NIA also recommended more powers for councils to capture land value uplift from new infrastructure, measures to improve infrastructure design, and called for the government to prepare a long term strategy for flood protection that included preventing "inappropriate housing development" in areas prone to flooding

In its response, the Treasury drew attention to new measures announced in today's Budget, including confirmation of government plans to introduce a new system of planning obligations designed to provide "more certainty for developers and local authorities". Changes are likely to include removal of restrictions on section 106 pooling towards a single piece of infrastructure, the Treasury said.

The interim response also said the government will introduce a "strategic infrastructure tariff" for combined authorities and joint planning committees with strategic planning powers, similar to the Mayor of London's city-wide community infrastructure levy to pay for Crossrail.

While the government stopped short of adopting a recommendation that all major infrastructure projects should be subject to a design review process and have a board-level "design champion", it acknowledged that "design panels can be a good tool to help maximise the value of infrastructure projects".

The document does not mention the long term strategy for flood prevention but ministers promised to publish a policy statement next year "setting out the government’s flood and coastal erosion risk management policy".

In addition, the government said it has commissioned the NIC to undertake a new study on "the resilience of economic infrastructure systems".

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