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Pioneering partnerships piloted to accelerate local infrastructure

10 July 2013

Dr Peter GeraghtyLocal infrastructure schemes that have hit delays, preventing projects from unlocking local growth, are set to benefit from a new public-private partnership to get projects off the ground.

As part of the new Local Infrastructure Demonstrator Partnership pilots, leading private sector professionals are working for free alongside government partners to identify and overcome problems that have been hindering infrastructure projects that could otherwise be creating new jobs and growth.

Five areas will be involved in the pilots initially, in Blackpool, Grantham, Northamptonshire, Norwich and Swindon. The specialist support offered through the partnership should lead to each project moving forward more quickly than would have been the case without support. The private sector led teams comprise representatives from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), with other senior public and private sector partners also making significant contributions.

To develop the Partnership and ensure additional free specialist support is available, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is providing funding through its Growth Fund. 

Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “Making improvements to local infrastructure and unblocking new developments are vital for growth, and having free industry advice and support on hand can help get projects off the ground.

By bringing together the relevant experts face-to-face with the parties involved, solutions can often be found to problems and costly delays avoided.  I would like to thank the private sector experts who are working on the projects on a pro bono basis.”

RTPI President Dr Peter Geraghty said: “The RTPI is delighted to have brought planners’ expertise to help unblock the stalled sites. We hope that the work not only benefits the communities in the five demonstrator areas, but serves as an example to other parts of the country with similarly delayed developments. It is not always easy but with willingness, determination and professional expertise it is possible to overcome seemingly intractable obstacles to deliver the infrastructure local areas need to grow sustainably.”

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “We know that building the new infrastructure that communities need is one of the most effective ways to create growth in the economy. Yet too often this potential is hindered by barriers that prevent projects starting on site. As representatives of industry it is essential that we work with our local clients, providing the support that they need to overcome these problems. By doing so we can play our part in rebuilding the health of the UK economy, while securing a positive future for our own industry."

About the programme

The Local Infrastructure Pilots programme is a private-led partnership (comprising CECA, the RTPI, BIS and local project co-ordinators). The partnership aims to progress stalled local infrastructure projects with potential to release economic growth by resolving barriers to progress.

Multidisciplinary teams of experts (working on a pro-bono basis) nominated by the partnership have been invited by local authorities to assist a small number of local projects in the first wave: Blackpool Central; Grantham Bypass; Northampton Development (Daventry); NorwichResearchPark; and Swindon (White Hart). York Central is also being considered as an additional pilot, and more work is being undertaken locally.

The partnership approach involves face-to-face interaction with local partners to uncover and understand barriers to progress. Typical barriers include local co-ordination and capacity issues as much as, or rather than, access to finance.

The Construction Industries Training Board (CITB) has agreed to support the expansion of the programme. Through the CITB Development Fund, training will be provided to create a larger team of individuals who will work with local bodies to identify and overcome the barriers they face in developing their infrastructure schemes.

Diagnosticians will be trained how to identify barriers to delivery and be briefed on the range of solutions available to them. They will also receive training on legal issues associated with the role, and mentoring from existing diagnosticians.   Once trained, these diagnosticians can then train up further people, helping to organically grow the initiative over time.