Sir John Armitt debates infrastructure needs with Midlands leaders

On 13 April, Sir John Armitt, ICE president, visited the West Midlands and met 36 business and industry leaders for a round-table debate on the future infrastructure needs of our major cities.

Sir John Armitt, ICE
Sir John Armitt, ICE's 151st president

The debate was one of a series of evidence gathering events taking place across the country, and will contribute to a “national needs assessment” – a huge project being led by ICE and involving a number of other organisations including Pinsent Masons and KPMG. It will result in a report to be published in the autumn, setting out a vision for infrastructure up to 2050.

The debate tackled a number of questions. Just how different will our infrastructure needs be in 35 years’ time? How will population growth or climate change affect those needs? What about technology game changers like driverless cars? And what kind of challenges and opportunities will we face when devolving decisions on key infrastructure projects.

Massive infrastructure investment is happening across the region and government has put its weight behind a “Midlands Engine” aimed to boost productivity, attract investment and increase connectivity in the region, and the Midlands Connect collaboration has been tasked with developing a strategy to identify what exactly is needed to improve connectivity between the regions key points.

It is this kind of strategic thinking that is needed to really power the “Midlands Engine” and help make it a reality. Individual infrastructure projects which deliver improvements for the people who work and live in major cities in the Midlands are welcome, but in an ideal world projects should not progress in isolation – they should be part of an integrated and well thought through plan.

After the event, Sir John said: “This question of “need” is what we want to get right to the heart of in our national needs assessment - so the right choices are made for the future of our great cities. Business and industry leaders in the Midlands have had their say today, and I am inspired by the infrastructure projects I see underway and the passion of those driving them.”

Press coverage

The debate attracted considerable interest from the local media including:

Huge Coventry developments hailed as 'perfect' example of how to plan for the future
Coventry Telegraph - Sir John Armitt, president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), hailed the city as “a perfect example” of planning for the future during a visit today.

Coventry Telegraph focus on 12 major Coventry projects

“Getting our approaches to regional leadership and to procurement right will be critical in improving the UK's infrastructure, said the author of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).“
Read the Business Desk coverage of their exclusive interview with Sir John.