The National Infrastructure Commission today launched a partnership programme for cities and city regions across the country, to help local leaders develop long-term strategies that link transport, housing and job opportunities.

Chairman Sir John Armitt said the programme would help cities “from the North East to the South West” to share knowledge and expertise as they look to improve their local transport connections.

Five cities and city regions have been selected to work with the Commission, to benefit from expert advice as they develop strategies to improve local transport connections, unlock job opportunities and deliver much-needed new homes.

On top of this, all 45 of England’s largest cities will have the chance to share information and expertise through a series of events that will take place across the country in the New Year, hosted by the National Infrastructure Commission.

The programme follows publication of the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, which recommended that additional funding and powers be devolved to city leaders and Metro Mayors so they can develop long-term strategies for their area.

The five cities and city regions selected today will become case studies to demonstrate what cities across the country can do in this area, and of the difference that the long-term funding certainty recommended in the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment can make.

They will also have access to advice and support from Commission officials, challenge panel sessions to test their strategy, and access to mentoring and guidance from other cities and leading experts including the Centre for Cities.

Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said:

“Our cities are vital to our economy – but their ability to reach their true potential is stymied by poor public transport and traffic congestion.  The solution to this won’t come from Whitehall but from Town Halls.

“Our new partnership programme will help our five chosen cities to design plans to improve their local transport – which in turn will demonstrate the real benefits that devolving funding for the long-term will bring.

“On top of this the series of events we’ll be running across the country will give dozens of cities from the North East to the South West the chance to share knowledge and expertise.”

Commissioner Bridget Rosewell OBE said:

“Local leaders know the needs of their communities better than anyone, and having the chance to draw upon the lessons of their peers will enable them to fulfil their areas’ full potential.

“That’s why we’ll be bringing together cities from Newcastle to Plymouth to share their experiences of improving local transport connections.

“We hope this exciting work will provide cities with the tools they need to successfully prepare for the future.”

Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities said:

“Cities are where the national economy happens. We have long argued for places up and down the country to have more certainty and long-term funding to invest in infrastructure, as the National Infrastructure Assessment rightly recommends.

“That is why we are delighted to be part of the commission’s initiative, to offer cities extra support and advice, and to share the lessons of this work with places more widely.”

Supporting cities to improve their local transport

Established in 2015, the National Infrastructure Commission is an independent body tasked with providing clear advice to the Government on how best to meet the country’s long-term infrastructure needs.

In its National Infrastructure Assessment – the first of its kind for the UK – the Commission recommends that Ministers provide new powers and £43billion funding on top of current spending levels between now and 2040 to city leaders including Metro Mayors, to develop long-term strategies for improving transport links.

The Assessment also highlights the need for these strategies to be unlocking job opportunities and delivering much-needed new homes.

Following publication of the Assessment, Sir John Armitt wrote to councils in the 45 largest cities in England.  The knowledge sharing events will allow cities who have expertise in particular areas to make this available to others, and will also include contributions from external experts.

Five cities and city regions have been selected to work with the Commission on in depth case studies over the next year.  They are:

  • Cities in the West Yorkshire Combined Authority area – including Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield.  The Combined Authority want to create an efficient and sustainable local transport system;
  • Liverpool City Region – a city region whose roads are the second most congested outside London.  The city region plans to develop a Spatial Development Strategy taking in housing, planning and transport;
  • Derby – who want to develop a new growth plan to improve transport, employment and housing in the area, all while also improving air quality and the city’s environmental impact;
  • Basildon – who want to develop an infrastructure strategy that supports the delivery of 18,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs by the mid-2030s; and
  • Exeter – a city looking to deliver, with its strategic partners, 50,000 new homes by 2040.  The Commission will work with the City Council to develop a strategic plan taking in these new homes as well as improvements to local transport and job opportunities.

The five cities chosen today will have the chance to start this work now, and demonstrate what greater certainty over long-term funding could enable them to deliver for their residents.

As they do so, they will work alongside the National Infrastructure Commission to have access to experienced professionals who will be able to provide a fresh, outside perspective on how they might tackle local transport issues in their area.

Notes to Editors

The National Infrastructure Commission’s definition of cities comprises 45 city regions. This list covers the 55 areas defined by the Centre for Cities as a Primary Urban Area, some of which are grouped into combined authorities covering a larger city region. The Primary Urban Area definition includes all built up areas with a daytime population of 135,000 or more. This roughly corresponds to a residential population of over 100,000.

The cities chosen as case studies have populations of:

  • West Yorkshire (2.3m)
  • Liverpool City Region (1.5m)
  • Derby (260,000)
  • Basildon (180,000)
  • Exeter (130,000)

A series of events will be organised across the country in the New Year, working with the Centre for Cities and the What Works Centre for Economic Growth.