Northern Powerhouse ambitions slammed as “piecemeal and parochial”

16 Jun 16

Current government plans to boost the economies of cities across the north of England are “piecemeal, partial and parochial” and a new plan is needed to reinvigorate the Northern Powerhouse, a report has claimed.

Reviewing government attempts to boost the cities across the region, IPPR North and the Royal Town Planning Institute said there was a need to focus on innovation, energy and advanced manufacturing, rather than just cutting the time it takes to travel between Leeds and Manchester.

Publishing their version of a Great North Plan today, the bodies said the current initiative was hindered by being led by Whitehall rather than Northern businesses.

A series of government devolution deals will localise powers over services including transport, planning and skills to areas including Greater Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and Liverpool, and the North East and Tees Valley. In addition, ministers have backed regional transport plans that include new and upgraded rail routes.

However, IPPR North director Ed Cox called on businesses and local authorities to make a ‘Powerhouse Pledge’ to show how they would contribute to boosting their local economies.

"The Powerhouse has got to go beyond reducing travel times between Leeds and Manchester, important as this is,” Cox said.

“Businesses and foreign investors have told us that they want to see a more coherent approach to economic planning with the kind of framework found in London, Scotland and most European regions.”

The plan highlights, for example, areas where the region has competitive advantages, such as advanced manufacturing, the digital economy and energy supply, which should be the focus of development plans.

Cox called for firms to help form “a business-led plan from the North, for the North, to tie these together”.

He added: “It is the kind of strategy that they have in London and in the most successful regions in Europe and the USA and now is the time for business leaders to have a bigger role in making the Northern Powerhouse a reality.”

RTPI Yorkshire chair Phil Crabtree said local authorities in particular need to use their combined local planning, economic development and regeneration powers to lead the process of change.

“The Great North Plan blueprint document shows how planning can play a vital role in fostering the vision, collaboration and flexibility necessary to deliver the economic, social, technological and environmental benefits across the whole of the North of England,” he added.

“Planning professionals have a key role in supporting this process. The RTPI calls on local authorities, government and businesses to make full use of the region’s planners and plan-making process.”

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