Engines, Powerhouses and now a Heartland

England's Economic Heartland – covering Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, and Northamptonshire among others – is the  latest regional initiative following the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.

The M25 running through Buckinghamshire, one of the counties making up England’s Economic Hearltand. Image credit: Timo Newton-Syms [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
The M25 running through Buckinghamshire, one of the counties making up England’s Economic Hearltand. Image credit: Timo Newton-Syms [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Updated: 05 August, 2016
  • Author: Ben Goodwin, ICE Policy Manager

What do they all have in common? They all need quality infrastructure to realise their full potential.

In our recent State of the Nation report on devolution we made the case for integrated approaches to infrastructure networks in developing the Midlands Engine and Northern Powerhouse. The same thinking should apply in relation to England’s Economic Heartland (EEH).

Why does ICE think this?

ICE has today responded to the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) call for evidence on the Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge “growth corridor”. During the 12-week inquiry the commission has been seeking to understand how economic growth and higher levels of productivity can be achieved along the corridor.

In the context of planning around transport and wider infrastructure networks we are making the case that greater strategic planning is necessary within the wider economic area that the corridor sits. The geography covered by the EEH partnership provides a more strategic basis for linking infrastructure services, recognising the need to improve transport links between the corridor and neighbouring areas.

View the full ICE consultation response

Establishing a vision

Drawing on the recommendations set out in our State of the Nation report, we believe that sustainable economic growth and higher productivity across EEH can be achieved by:

  • Developing the EEH Strategic Transport and Infrastructure Proposition into a regional infrastructure strategy that identifies the area’s network requirements and plans for their delivery
  • Producing a regional infrastructure pipeline to act as guide for potential investors and to provide foresight on future skills needs
  • Enabling combined authorities within the area to take more flexible (but prudential) approaches to financing infrastructure

It is also important that this approach recognises that alongside the goal of sustainable economic growth infrastructure networks should enhance quality of life for local people and the environments in which they live.

Next steps

An interim report on their call for evidence will be published by the NIC later this year. Following this a final report will be published by Autumn Statement 2017.

In the meantime ICE will continue to focus on delivering the recommendations set out in this year’s State of the Nation report.

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