Planning authorities must capitalise on infrastructure spending hike, says government adviser

Planning authorities have a key role to play in ensuring that the hike in infrastructure investment recommended by government adviser the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has a transformative effect on the country, one of the commission's board members said last week.

Professor Sadie Morgan speaking at the event last week
Professor Sadie Morgan speaking at the event last week

Speaking at the National Infrastructure Planning Association dinner in London on Thursday, Professor Sadie Morgan outlined the spending advice that the commission has given to the Treasury.

The NIC has called for £43 billion of funding on top of current spending levels to be devolved to cities between now and 2040, she said, and argued that the government can afford an increase of 25 per cent in funding for local transport outside of cities by the mid 2030s.

But she added: "If we are to fully deliver the transformation needed, we require clear-sighted leadership from government and back-up from councils with robust, special plans that are embedded into the communities they wish to serve".

Morgan also stressed the importance of forward planning more generally. "In order to look to ahead and plan for it, you need a vision," she said. "And in order to create that vision, you need to work with people who can think and imagine the the future. Yet this kind of thinking often falls through the cracks. When it comes to multi-faceted projects, with overly complex bureaucracy, time and money are much easier to calculate than quality of life. There is no metric or line in the spreadsheet for that".

She concluded by saying that: "As we as a country move into a decade where many big infrastructure projects are to be designed, delivered and built, it is incumbent on us all to make sure that we make places that add to the life of our cities and countryside".

Morgan is a board member of the NIC. She is also chair of the independent design panel for High Speed Two (HS2) UK, and founding director of drMM Architects.

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