The built environment is central to a successful industrial strategy
The built environment is at the heart of the Government’s much anticipated ‘Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future’.
Whether it’s meeting the needs of an ageing society, maximising the opportunities of Clean Growth, changing the way that people, goods and services move about or harnessing the power of AI; those of us working within the Built Environment are the key to overcoming the ‘Grand Challenges’ that the industrial strategy identifies.
The Government has committed significant money to invest in the Built Environment:
- £31bn in the National Productivity Investment Fund
- £400m for electric vehicle charging infrastructure
- £1bn in digital infrastructure
- £1.7bn in a Transforming Cities Fund
But it isn’t being prescriptive in how to tackle the challenges that it has identified, preferring instead to rely on LEPs and Combined Authority Mayors to develop Local Industrial Strategies to meet the skills, infrastructure and growth needs of a particular area.
The ambition for a national strategy to be delivered under a localist agenda shouldn’t be a surprise. Government remains convinced that regional devolution is the way to spread economic growth (but only if it ‘fits’ within the City Regional elected mayoral model).
It is up to the private sector to ensure that Local Industrial Strategies are fit for purpose by engaging with LEPs and Metro Mayors as they are developed. Do they link into Local Plans, local transport strategies and Strategic Economic Plans? Will they deliver the policy frameworks that the sector needs to deliver the housing growth, infrastructure investment and skills that will be the vital economic drivers as we navigate through Brexit?
Our built environment impacts on every aspect of daily life. For our country to succeed we need a better built environment that supports our economic growth and provides the foundation for society to thrive. The Industrial Strategy is therefore a positive starting point in focusing minds on the challenges that lay ahead. But it will ultimately be up to all of us to ensure that at a local level, policy makers have the information and evidence to make decisions that address the challenges of towns and cities across the North West and deliver a better built environment that the next generation needs.
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