Making better decisions to deliver high quality infrastructure

For government and relevant industries to take decisive action on their infrastructure projects, they need to have confidence that their decision making is as good as possible. Long term decisions inevitably carry risk, but these risks need to be taken, and uncertainty managed as much as possible. Decision making can be improved through robust analysis of the performance of existing infrastructure and recognising the value of good design in infrastructure. Not everything can be reduced to numbers, but there should be an effective methodology to measure the quality of the UK’s current infrastructure to reliably inform assessments of future needs.

NIA recommendations

The Commission recommends that government should publish good quality data on infrastructure costs and performance. All public bodies taking decisions on strategic economic infrastructure should publish the forecast costs and benefits of their major infrastructure projects at each appraisal stage and at a suitable point after completion, by the end of 2019. The Infrastructure and Projects Authority should work with departments to ensure that costs are comparable between sectors.

The Commission recommends that design should be embedded into the culture of infrastructure planning, to save money, reduce risk, add value, support environmental net gain and create a legacy that looks good and works well, by:

  • Government ensuring that all Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, including those authorised through hybrid parliamentary bills, have a board level design champion and use a design panel to maximise the value provided by the infrastructure
  • Design panels for nationally significant infrastructure projects having regard to design principles to be published by the National Infrastructure Commission based on advice received from the Design Group.