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Infrastructure can be used to unlock housing – RTPI

Words: Laura Edgar
Consultation / Istock

The ability to unlock large housing developments should be made an explicit criterion in assessing infrastructure, says the RTPI.

In its response to a National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) consultation launched in May this year, the RTPI expressed concern that a method of assessing infrastructure need based only on existing patterns of demand would risk continued investment in London and the South-East at the expense of other areas.

The consultation sought views from interested parties on what a National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) should include. The consultation document states that the NIA will analyses the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs, outline a “strategic vision over a 30-year horizon” and set out recommendations for how these needs should begin to be met.

An NIA will be produced once a Parliament.

The RTPI proposes a “feedback loop” methodology whereby the NIC proposals for national infrastructure would invite matching plans from local authorities and developers for major housing growth.

The institute said these plans would then be fed back into the original needs assessment, allowing the commission to prioritise and fund infrastructure that would unlock housing.

James Harris, the RTPI’s policy and networks manager, said: “This is an opportunity for the government to use infrastructure to help solve the housing crisis, bridge the north-south divide in England, and tackle climate change. Our approach would ensure infrastructure acts as a catalyst to unlock large-scale housing, jobs and economic growth.”

The RTPI has also called on the NIC to take the following measures.

  • Assess the impact of different infrastructure plans on the shape and density of the built environment.

  • Factor in existing plans and aspirations for local and regional infrastructure, from local government, Local Enterprise Partnerships and private companies, by appointing commissioned with explicit responsibilities from the nations and English regions.

  • Examine options for tackling the serious levels of water stress expected in Greater London, the South-East and the East of England, given their high household growth projections.

  • Look at the potential benefits of devolved flood defence spending to combined authorities and planning for flood risk over an 80-100-year time period.

  • Consider the impacts of infrastructure proposals on natural resources and the environment through an ‘ecosystems approach’ in the assessment.

The RTPI’s response to the consultation can be found here (pdf).

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