Gas Training News Article | Transport investment key to ‘tangible’ Northern Powerhouse for Newcastle

Transport investment key to ‘tangible’ Northern Powerhouse for Newcastle

Posted on February 26, 2016

Transport investment key to ‘tangible’ Northern Powerhouse for Newcastle
• Connectivity investment key to sustainable powerhouse growth
• Every £1 spent on infrastructure would generate £2.59 wider economic activity
• £100m Swans shipyard points to the ripple effect of major investment

As representatives from the six major Northern Powerhouse cities gather for a major new conference on the subject today (25 February), industry experts are pointing to transportation investment as the key to creating a tangible powerhouse for Newcastle.

Major contractor and developer Kier which employs over 5,500 people across the powerhouse region, has offices in Hebburn and Killingworth and is currently redeveloping the 34-acre Swans site, is calling on city leaders to lobby Transport for the North (TfN) and the new National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) ahead of their respective strategy and spending reports next month.

Kier is pointing to the importance of securing the rail and road investments needed to redress core connectivity issues across the North East, and with it securing the chance to leverage wider regeneration investment.

CBI data shows that for every £1 spent on key building and infrastructure activity it generates a further £2.59 of wider economic benefit in the northern economy. The ripple effect of investment in transport infrastructure can also be used to trigger urban regeneration such as new house building and wider commercial development, so it doesn’t just provide direct connectivity benefits.

Nigel Brook, Kier executive director construction and infrastructure services, explains: “We need to be clear that the Northern Powerhouse is not a kitchen sink solution covering all the needs of the north or an immediate redress of the economic imbalance between the north and south. But it is a clear commitment from central government to invest in the north where it can, and this money will be largely focused on transport projects centred on TfN’s remit to overhaul connectivity across the northern cities.

“With headline grabbing projects like HS3 and the Trans-Pennine Tunnel becoming synonymous with the Northern Powerhouse, there is a danger that equally important core transport investment programmes are glossed over. Whether this is additional plans to improve the A19 Coast road junction, A1 in Northumberland and development of Smart Motorways across the north of England, there are a number of transport initiatives that have more immediate scope and are more affordable to deliver.
“They can also be very powerful in kickstarting wider regeneration and economic stimulus if developed in the right way. Through Solum, a joint venture with Network Rail, we have been redeveloping transport sites and facilities, but using this momentum to bring wider residential and commercial development to these locations, creating new communities around key upgrades in transport infrastructure. As an experienced development partner we’ve learnt that you can achieve much more than the sum of a projects’ parts if you look at the wider regeneration ripple effect that can be created.

“Across in Manchester, one of several transport hubs that we have developed, in Wythenshawe, has kick-started substantial wider regeneration that has witnessed increased footfall of circa 10,000 people per week, created wider business stimulus of 1,500 jobs and house prices have rocketed, at a national pace that is only outstripped by Chelsea.

“In Newcastle we are redeveloping the £100m, 34-acre Swan Hunter Shipyard site to encourage advanced manufacturing companies specialising in the offshore industry, who will benefit from the easy access to the North Sea. The project aims to breathe new life into the area and bringing with it a ripple effect of an increase in jobs and social value for the area.

“Next month the new National Infrastructure Commission will outline its plans for spending its £411bn budget across the UK over the next five years, as Transport for the North does the same with its new strategy document and outline funding. Newcastle needs to ensure that its priority transport projects are reflected in both documents, and that this transport investment is fully leveraged to generate maximum regeneration value, as well as obvious key connectivity benefits, so that the powerhouse becomes a tangible reality rather than just political rhetoric.”

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