North of England transport strategy calls for creation of 'Great North Plan'

Calls for the creation of a strategic "Great North Plan", a Leeds airport railway station, another Tees Crossing, and a series of other new road and rail links are proposed in a new strategic transport plan for the north of England.

A freight train crosses the Royal Border Bridge in Northumberland on the East Coast Main Line. Image credit: Matt Buck / Flickr
A freight train crosses the Royal Border Bridge in Northumberland on the East Coast Main Line. Image credit: Matt Buck / Flickr

The public-private Transport for the North partnership, a statutory body, today published its Strategic Transport Plan for the north of England.

The document has no formal planning status, but the agency said it reflects the views of its member authorities and will be used to inform their strategic planning work, as well as guiding central government’s investment decisions.

Local authorities will be granted access to Transport for the North’s evidence base and economic modelling for the plan, which it said it hoped would inform future local plans and strategies.

The agency said it wants to build a "collaborative and constructive relationship" with the 72 local planning authorities in the north of England to shape how and where development takes place.

Transport for the North also pointed to the potential for development of a "Great North Plan" to coordinate spatial planning and strategic infrastructure investment. Proposals for the creation of a Great North Plan have been mooted for several years. 

The transport plan identifies seven "strategic development corridors", including areas linking the North West with Wales, the West Coast with the Sheffield City Region, and Yorkshire with Scotland, which will be the focus of infrastructure investment in the region.

An investment programme published alongside the plan identifies priorities including a new railway station at Leeds Bradford Airport Parkway, a new Tees Crossing, electrification of the Sheffield - East Coast mainline, reinstatement of passenger services on the Northumberland rail line, and various other rail and road links.

The plan will be considered by the Transfort for the North board, a mix of local authority leaders and representatives of local enterprise partnerships and transport agencies, on 7 February.

Published in draft in January last year, the plan has since been out to consultation. Subject to approval, the plan will be formally launched on 11 February and will become Transport for the North’s statutory advice to the government.

Barry White, chief executive of Transport for the North, said: "The Strategic Transport Plan is a hugely important document for the north. It is our vision for a prosperous pan-northern future and outlines how investment in transport could transform our economy.

"This final plan will be a statutory document written by the north, for the north, and will be our blueprint to deliver transformational change and leave a legacy for future generations."

Transport for the North was launched in 2014 with a remit to work with the government on developing a transport strategy for the region.

The agency has previously called for development of a high-speed rail route linking cities in the north of England.

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