BUDGET: Industry calls for Powerhouse timetable

The need for a sense of urgency to be injected into the ambitious rail and road projects backed by Osborne was the common theme among property folk reacting to the Chancellor’s statement.

Adam Mirley, director and head of planning and development, Lambert Smith Hampton, Manchester: “Whilst it’s good news that the Chancellor has committed to HS3 in the Budget, what was lacking was a clear timeframe for delivery. For the North of England’s economy to grow, those considering investment in the region or looking to locate their businesses here need certainty about what they can expect and when.

“The development of a Sheffield tunnel is a welcome development, but long overdue. It is unbelievable that in this day and age, business and commuter travel between Manchester and Sheffield is reliant on A-roads like the Snake Pass that are brought to a halt so frequently in the winter months.

“Hopefully the Chancellor’s commitment to investment in infrastructure in the North of England will not be fleeting and will deliver the framework required for the Northern Powerhouse concept to become a reality in a sensible timeframe, as so much of the private investment needed in the region is reliant on this.”

Geoff White, policy manager for RICS in the North and Midlands: “It was a good Budget for the Northern Powerhouse. In backing the National Infrastructure Commission’s High Speed North proposals, George Osborne is putting in place a twin track programme to secure improvements in the short term and to plan for more in the future.

“There will be short term gains through improvements to the rail network, such as the electrification of the Manchester–Leeds link, and improvements to congested roads such as the M62, M1, A66 and A69.

“The commitment to invest in long term plans for HS3 and the Trans-Pennine road tunnel will be welcomed by commuters and businesses in the North. As well as improving travel times across the region and encouraging economic growth, the infrastructure projects will create jobs and bring increased wealth.

“RICS fully supports the NIC’s plans and encourages the Chancellor to press ahead with delivery. The government must explore ways of shortening the time scales it has set, learning lessons from HS2.”

Andrew McFarlane, director and head of the North West at Colliers International: “As the Chancellor’s vision of a Northern Powerhouse becomes a reality by developing from a brand into a product, his commitment to implement the recommendations of the National Infrastructure Commission has to be welcomed by all throughout the North.

“As prospects for the global economy continue to weaken, it is all the more important for us to create transformational infrastructure that improves the economic performance of the North by connecting people and places more effectively and quickly. Together we are stronger and by acting as one, the great cities and towns of the North can become an effective economic counterweight to London.”

David Lathwood, lead director for the North West at JLL: “HS3 is to the North West and Yorkshire what Crossrail is to London and given that we’re approaching the second anniversary of the Chancellor coining the phrase Northern Powerhouse this kind of concrete investment is well overdue.

“So far Manchester has been the leading light in demonstrating that the UK economy could be rebalanced. In 2015 investment in the city’s office market reached £788m – well above the five-year average – and international capital in the sector outweighed domestic investment for the first time ever. If we are to build on this momentum and spread the benefits, to allow other northern cities a shot at a similar renaissance, the state of transport infrastructure in the north has to be addressed. That means a focus not only on large scale ambitious projects like HS3 and the trans-Pennine tunnel but on improving and integrating the current transport offer through smart ticketing and enhanced capacity.”

Mike Redshaw, director of Nolan Redshaw, commercial property agents in North Manchester, said: “Overall, I would commend the good housekeeping contained within the Budget, with growth predictions still positive and a sensible commitment to a budget surplus. My biggest concern, however, is over the deliverability of the proposed infrastructure investment into the Northern Powerhouse.

“Although the backing for HS3 is to be welcomed, with no widening of the M62 having taken place since 1971 and with current levels of infrastructure investment five times higher in the South East than the North, the proposed road improvements within the North, including the M62, are way overdue and the finance needs to be guaranteed now.  As we all know, the North West road network is in gridlock and funds need to be fully committed now, to start the works as soon as possible.”

Richard Laming, director, head of economics at Turley: “Osborne’s Budget suggests a long-term plan for the next generation and a strong commitment to investing in infrastructure. Projects such as the flagship trans-Pennine Tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield will potentially cut journey times between these major city regions by 30 minutes, boosting productivity and trade. However, the lead-in time for such improvements mean that businesses will have to wait a long time to see real improvements in connectivity across the Northern Powerhouse. In the face of unprecedented levels of investment in the Northern Powerhouse’s transport infrastructure, it will be important not to lose sight of the need to secure complementary investment in places and people.”

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