Infrastructure investment in an age of devolution: Risks and opportunities

22 February, 2017 | 09:30 - 16:00

New Street station, Birmingham. The Midlands Connect partnership will publish a transport strategy for the region in March 2017
New Street station, Birmingham. The Midlands Connect partnership will publish a transport strategy for the region in March 2017

About this event

Devolution offers the opportunity for local areas to plan for integrated infrastructure solutions, encompassing energy, flood risk management, transport, housing, and digital and green infrastructure. However, infrastructure decisions have strategic implications, impacting across various local, regional, and national geographical levels.

In a changing system of governance, clarity is required in the bid preparation process, in deciding the most appropriate political level for determining infrastructure need, and in allocating responsibility for the implementation of infrastructure investment strategies. Collaboration will be required between communities, local authorities, regulatory and delivery bodies, and national government, but with clear lines of accountability. Infrastructure pipelines must be coordinated with regional skills plans, and new financing streams will be required to deliver growth through infrastructure.

This seminar, drawing on experience developed through the devolution process so far, deals with the practical steps needed in a devolved context to ensure maximum benefit from infrastructure investment for the economy, local communities, and the environment.

The seminar covers

  • The devolution bid process
  • Local and regional strategies for infrastructure
  • Planning skills need through the infrastructure pipeline
  • Finance for infrastructure

Speakers confirmed so far

  • Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of the Council, Barnsley MBC
  • Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive, Centre for Cities
  • Angus Walker, Partner, Bircham Dyson Bell
  • Jonathan Spruce, Director, Fore Consulting Ltd
  • Professor Andy Pike, Director of CURDS, Newcastle University


Early bird: LGiU & ICE Members: £157.45 +VAT
Non-Members: £202.45 +VAT

Early Bird offer ends 23 December 2016.

LGiU & ICE Members: £174.95 +VAT
Non-Members: £224.95 +VAT

Sir Stephen Houghton, CBE

Sir Steve has been an elected member of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council for 28 years and Leader of the Council for 19 years. He has a Masters Degree in Local Governance from the University of Birmingham. Previously, Sir Steve led a Government Review into the role of local authorities and partnerships in tackling long term unemployment and worklessness, which was published in 2009. Sir Steve has recently been asked to sit on the Rotherham Improvement Board after sitting on Improvement Boards for both Doncaster MBC and Wirral MBC in the past.

Sir Steve holds a number of positions including Chair of the Sheffield City Region, Chair of SIGOMA and Regional Peer of the LGA. He was awarded the CBE for services to Local Government in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List and a Knighthood in 2013 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Alexandra Jones

Alexandra is Chief Executive of Centre for Cities. She is an influential voice in the cities debate, providing advice for senior policymakers in national and local government on a regular basis. Alexandra has worked on strategic projects with organisations ranging from Leeds City Region and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to the business-led West End Partnership. She has been a member of the City Finance Commission chaired by Sir Stuart Lipton and the London Finance Commission chaired by Tony Travers, as well as being a senior adviser to the City Growth Commission, chaired by (now Lord) Jim O’Neill. She is currently chair of the London Stansted Cambridge Corridor Commission and on the Board of the Heseltine Institute at Liverpool University. An experienced presenter and commentator for broadcast and print media, Alexandra writes on a wide range of issues affecting cities around the world and has regular columns in the MJ, LGC and Estates Gazette. Previously jobs have included leading the ‘Ideopolis’ Knowledge Cities team at the Work Foundation and working as a Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary in the Department for Education and Skills.

Andrew Jones (Chair)

Andrew Jones has over 25 years’ experience in economic development in various posts in central government, Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs), commercial consultancies, think tanks, and academia. Over the past decade, he has combined regular employment with a mix of consultancy, teaching, research, and editorial activities, and currently teaches economics at London South Bank University. In addition, Andrew Jones is the editor of the journal Local Economy, which expanded publication from four issues a year to eight in 2009. Founded in 1986, and currently published by Sage, Local Economy covers a wide range of issues influencing local development, including broad social and economic processes and policies originating at national and international levels. He currently teaches economics at London South Bank University.

Andy Pike

Andy Pike is Henry Daysh Professor Regional Development Studies, Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS), Newcastle University, UK, and Deputy Director of the ESRC and EPSRC-funded infrastructure business models for innovation and local delivery (iBUILD) research centre. His research interests are in the geographical political economy of local and regional development. He is widely published in international journals, author of Origination: The Geographies of Brands and Branding (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), co-author of Local and Regional Development (2nd Edition, Routledge, 2017) (with Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and John Tomaney), editor of Brands and Branding Geographies (Elgar, 2011) and Whither Regional Studies? (Routledge, 2009), and co-editor of Handbook of Local and Regional Development (Routledge, 2011) and Local and Regional Development – Major Works (Routledge, 2015) (with Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and John Tomaney). He has undertaken research projects for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations-International Labour Organisation (UN-ILO), European Commission, UK Government and national, regional and local institutions. He is currently working on the governance of local and regional economic development and the city-regional governance of infrastructure funding and financing. He was an editor of Regional Studies (2005-13) and was the founding Director of the Postgraduate Local and Regional Development programmes in CURDS (2002-14). He is currently working on the governance of local and regional economic development and the funding, financing and governance of urban infrastructure as part of the iBUILD research centre.

Jonathan Spruce Director, Fore Consulting Ltd

A Director of Fore Consulting, Jonathan is a civil and transportation engineer with almost 25 years’ worth of wide ranging experience working for the public and private sectors. He is an experienced advisor to the public and private sector, and regularly provides advice at a senior level to local authorities and partnerships in the UK, aimed at the development of integrated transportation and regeneration solutions aimed at supporting economic growth in cities. He is Chair of the ICE’s National Transport Expert Panel and Vice Chair of its Northern Powerhouse Steering Group.

Angus Walker Partner and Head of Planning and Infrastructure, Bircham Dyson Bell

Angus Walker has been a partner at Westminster law firm Bircham Dyson Bell since 2007 and has headed the infrastructure planning team of 25 lawyers there since 2014. He and his team specialise in advising promoters of nationally significant infrastructure projects, i.e. those that require consent under the Planning Act 2008, but also urban transit schemes such as trams. The team’s projects include Crossrail 2, the Lower Thames Crossing, Manchester Metrolink, the Hinkley Point C connection, the London Paramount entertainment resort and Manston Airport.

He is ranked fifth in Planning magazine’s 2016 survey of highest rated planning solicitors, and is described in the Legal 500 2016 as ‘having an encyclopedic knowledge of the national infrastructure system’. In 2015 he was elected Board Chair of the National Infrastructure Planning Association in 2015, which is the industry body responsible for promoting best practice in infrastructure planning, and he was on the steering committee for the Institution of Civil Engineers’ 2016 ‘State of the Nation’ report on devolution. He has been writing a blog on infrastructure planning since 2009 that now has over 1100 subscribers.