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Great North Plan mooted by RTPI and IPPR North

Published: Thursday, 23rd June 2016

Great North Plan blueprint seeks to turn the concept of a Northern Powerhouse into a reality by focusing on key industries and themes…

The Royal Town Planning Institute and think tank IPPR North have urged business leaders and the five northern core cities (Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle) to turn an embryonic economic blueprint for the area, published last week, into what the organisations have called a ‘Great North Plan’.

This initiative would involve the cities working closely with Transport for the North, Business North and central government to turn the concept of a Northern Powerhouse into a reality.

The blueprint said that a Great North Plan should be “high-level, strategic and brief”, and focus on four industries where the North can create competitive advantages: advanced manufacturing, energy, health innovation and digital.

It stressed that efforts to transform the north of England into an economic powerhouse would not succeed without a “coherent approach to economic planning” involving regional businesses and focusing on key themes: transport, economics, energy and population,

The blueprint, produced after months of roundtables and a summit in northern cities, sets out the template for the production of an overarching plan for the region incorporating a vision, strategies for the four key areas, a regional investment prospectus and a delivery plan.

Speaking at the launch of the blueprint in Leeds RTPI Yorkshire chair Phil Crabtree insisted that the document showed how planning could play a vital role in fostering the vision, collaboration and flexibility necessary to deliver “economic social, technological and environmental benefits across the whole of the north of England.”

He added: “Local authorities in particular need to use their combined planning, economic development and regeneration powers to guide private sector investment and to lead the process of change.”

IPPR North director Ed Cox stressed that a plan for the Powerhouse had to be created and delivered locally. “Letting it be driven by Whitehall rather than northern businesses risks taking us in the wrong direction with a piecemeal, partial and parochial approach,” he said.

“The Powerhouse has got to go beyond reducing travel times between Leeds and Manchester, important as this is. Businesses and foreign investors have told us that they want to see a more coherent approach to economic planning, with the kind of framework found in London, Scotland and most European regions.”

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Roger Milne