Lack of investment holding back cities outside London

Improved transport, housing and infrastructure could give a £44bn boost to the UK’s regional cities, according to a group of industry experts. 

In its first report, the Inclusive Growth Commission (IGC), which includes Mace and CBRE, found that insufficient investment in physical infrastructure was making the country’s regional cities difficult and expensive to live in compared with London. 

Sir John Armitt - meeting shot March 2022

The ICG suggested an expanded role for the NIC, chaired by Sir John Armitt

The commission said this is creating a “growth gap” compared to other places and recommended that the next government to take a number of steps to address the issue. 

It suggested the introduction of a new category of regionally significant infrastructure projects and that combined authorities should be given expanded powers to define these projects and then deal with planning applications for such schemes. 

The commission recommended the UK abandon the “green belt” approach to restrictions on development around towns and cities, and instead adopt a “green fingers” model, similar to that used in cities like Copenhagen. 

It also suggested that the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) be given an expansion in its role, giving its “official verdict” on major infrastructure announcements, in a similar manner to the role of the Office for Budget Responsibility. 

It also suggested the NIC have its remit expanded to include housing. 

Tom Lees, chair of the Inclusive Growth Commission said: “The UK is virtually unprecedented in the size of its ‘growth gap’ and how far behind its regional cities are versus the capital.   

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“If this gap is closed it could mean an extra £11,000 for each resident of Glasgow, £8,000 for every person in Leeds and over £6,000 for people in Manchester.  

“Tackling this growth gap must be the top priority for the government and any future Labour government.”  

Jason Millett, deputy chief executive at Mace and an IGC commissioner, added: “The delivery of good quality infrastructure is essential to ensuring economic growth in the UK.  

“We must work together to improve how we fund and deliver major infrastructure projects right across the country.”