09 August 2018

A study commissioned by England's Economic Heartland to identify opportunities to improve the delivery of utility infrastructure in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor has made five key recommendations, including the creation of a Strategic Infrastructure Delivery Board and consideration of a National Policy Statement for the region.

Securing the timely delivery of enabling infrastructure is fundamental to unlocking the region's immense economic potential, something identified by Government as being a 'national priority'.

Bircham Dyson Bell's key recommendations for England's Economic Heartland's consideration include:

Lead in bringing organisations together: A Strategic Infrastructure Delivery Board should be formally established, with the identification of named champions for each infrastructure sector to work across departments and parties

Establish new approaches to infrastructure investment: Innovative financing models should be assessed, such as tax incremental finance and land value capture to create the scope for the investment needed. Delivery models should also be examined.

Lead in streamlining the planning process: EEH should make the case and provide strong evidence of infrastructure needs at pre-planning stage and continue to work with regulators and utility providers across sectors to refine assumptions and future growth scenarios.

Realise potential changes in regulatory frameworks: Enhancements can be made in the short-term. EEH can take a lead in pulling together agencies into alignments to best serve the needs of the area; in particular by proposing revisions to regulatory frameworks.

Seek further policy support for the Heartland: A National Policy Statement could potentially be used to encourage regulators to take account of the need for advance delivery of strategic infrastructure.

England's Economic Heartland Chairman, Cllr Martin Tett, said: "Our region cannot reach its phenomenal potential without investment in enabling infrastructure and services, ensuring it is in place to support transformational levels of economic and housing growth.

"That is why we commissioned this report to identify opportunities to improve delivery of utility infrastructure. Bircham Dyson Bell have provided us with a number of practical and interesting recommendations on how to overcome what currently seems to be an inability to secure enabling infrastructure in a timely and efficient manner.

"We will now consider these recommendations before deciding our next steps to be taken jointly with Government, infrastructure owners and providers, regulators and local authorities. With regards to the NPS, this is a potentially ground-breaking approach, and we are already working with Government officials ahead of the Budget to see how we can make this happen."