Well designed, liveable, flourishing cities driving growth

Cities can be great places to live, with excellent public transport systems, well-designed public spaces for leisure and social activities, and flourishing, well-connected businesses. They are also engines of economic growth. However, as urban populations increase, many cities are becoming full and congested, and this is inhibiting economic development and reducing quality of life. For all their benefits, neither electric nor connected and autonomous vehicles will solve the problems of urban transport; rather they are likely to increase the number of drivers on the roads. Government and cities need to act now to ensure that space in cities is used effectively, with room allocated for fast, frequent public transport systems, well-connected and affordable housing, and pleasant public spaces. This will require a new approach to governance, strategy and funding.

To deliver thriving cities, metro mayors and other city leaders should develop integrated strategies for transport, employment and housing. Housing and infrastructure should be planned together: new housing requires new infrastructure. These integrated strategies should be backed up by stable, substantial, devolved funding. And for the cities that face the most severe capacity constraints, and with the most potential for growth, there should be additional funding to support major upgrade programmes, which would be agreed between the cities and central government.

NIA recommendations

The Commission recommends that government should make £500 million a year of funding available from 2025/26 to 2034/35 for local highways authorities to address the local road maintenance backlog. The Commission recommends that cities should have the powers and funding they need to pursue ambitious, integrated strategies for transport, employment and housing.

  • By 2021, metro mayors and city leaders should develop and implement long term integrated strategies for transport, employment and housing
    that will support growth in their cities
  • By 2021, government should ensure city leaders have the right powers to deliver these integrated strategies, including the power for metro mayors
    to make decisions on major housing development sites
  • Government should set out devolved infrastructure budgets for individual cities for locally determined urban transport priorities in line with the
    funding profile set out by the Commission. Budgets for 2021-2026 should be confirmed by mid 2019. Government should pass legislation, by 2020,
    requiring cities to be given regular five year infrastructure budgets
  • Government should allocate significant long term funding for major capacity upgrades in selected growth priority cities, in line with the funding profile set out by the Commission. Cities benefiting from major projects should make commitments on housing delivery and provide at least 25 per cent of funding. Priority cities should be identified by mid 2019, with long term investment commitments agreed by 2020. Future rounds should take place no more than twice a parliament.