Investment in infrastructure is an investment in places, people and communities, with infrastructure quietly supporting daily lives: delivering heat and power, providing clean drinking water, removing waste, and enabling people to travel.
There is an increasing recognition that effective and efficient infrastructure is important to both local and national economic prosperity and that there are quantifiable links between infrastructure investment, competitiveness and productivity.
There are clear social and economic consequences of failing to invest, as infrastructure plays a critical role in addressing environmental challenges and the transition to a zero-carbon future. The town planner plays a central role in coordinating the delivery of infrastructure to serve both new and existing development.
In plan-making, it identifies infrastructure needs and provides a strategic overview; in development management, it regulates, sets conditions and raises revenue for infrastructure; and through place-leadership, it engages and co-ordinates across sectors and boundaries.
However, there are clear challenges both for planners in managing these processes and for infrastructure providers in engaging with planning frameworks. There is evidence of a disconnect between infrastructure and planning, and demand for a more joined-up approach that proactively addresses the infrastructure needs of new development and the deficits of existing settlements alike.
Without this, the United Kingdom will struggle to reduce the productivity gap that exists relative to its international competitors, to meet its international obligations on climate change mitigation, to adapt to growing environmental risks, to deliver the quality and quantity of housing currently required, and to create healthy, sustainable places.
But across the country, people are developing new ways of collaborating, sharing information and using technology to plan infrastructure in a more efficient and coordinated way. This research takes an in-depth look at how infrastructure planning takes place in city-regions and counties across England and Scotland, the barriers experienced, and what needs to change.
Research approach and further materials
The focus of the research was on three in-depth case studies of infrastructure planning in different governance contexts: Staffordshire County Council, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Glasgow City Council. Appendix 1 contains reports from each case study. A national local authority survey was carried out to explore the broader applicability of the case study findings
You can download A Smarter Approach to Infrastructure Planning eBook. A series of in-depth interviews were also carried out with a sample of infrastructure providers operating in each of the case study areas. This research was carried out by the University of the West of England in partnership with Peter Brett Associates, now part of Stantec. It was part-funded by the County Council Network.