There is broad agreement among stakeholders in the north of England that we need a 'Great North Plan' – and that we need to get on with drawing one up.
In 2014 a number of organisations came together to hold two events in the North West under the banner 'Framing the Future'. At each of these events, participants expressed a clear sense of frustration that, at a national level, matters of planning and economic development were not being given the attention that they deserved, and that spatial planning processes at the sub-national level were fragmented. There was agreement that, in the absence of any serious national spatial plan, the north of England needed a plan of its own.
In 2015 IPPR North and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) issued a call for evidence, and organised 11 roundtable discussions in six northern cities. We also held a Northern Summit in January 2016, with further plenary debates and interactive voting. Through all of these activities we asked the question, 'Do we need a Great North Plan?'. The response was an overwhelming 'yes' (93 per cent); and, when asked about their more specific attitudes towards the Great North Plan, 58 per cent of respondents said that, 'We need to get on and do it'.
This blueprint is not the Great North Plan itself – although its centrefold spread is illustrative of what part of the Great North Plan could look like. Instead, it represents the best of the ideas of the more than 350 people who have fed into our thinking on the issue so far. It sets out a series of principles to guide how the Plan should be developed; identifies the suite of documents that might together comprise the Great North Plan; suggests the different themes or 'layers' of planning that need to be fitted together through collaborative action involving many stakeholders; and proposes a process for the next steps in moving from blueprint to plan.
Download full-size blueprint | Download A4 version | Read online
People & Place: A Spatial Framework for the North of England
With current economic and political uncertainty, Brexit on the immediate horizon, a hung parliament and devolution to city-regions underway, there is a critical need for the North of England to speak with a unified voice. The Great North Plan process created an opportunity to explore strategic issues relating to people and place across the North.
In the context of severely reduced resources for spatial and strategic planning, many northern local authorities and their stakeholders have already demonstrated innovative ways to meet pressing housing need and collaborate on cross-boundary issues. However, these have primarily operated at a sub-regional level. A framework is needed to connect sub-regional planning for people and place with strategic issues affecting the North as a whole.
The RTPI is now seeking to procure a sub-national non-statutory spatial framework (a People & Place strategy) for the North of England.
Download the Invitation to Tender document
The deadline for applications has now passed and the succesful bidder should be confirmed in July.
Questions and answers
Below are responses to anonymised queries that we have received about this Invitation to Tender
Q. Can applicants propose project timescales that differ from the indicative timescale set out in Section 2.5 of the tender?
A. Yes, applicants are welcome to propose reasonable alternative timescales for this project
Q. How detailed is the 'People & Place strategy' expected to be, given the project budget?
A. Section 2.3 of the Invitation to Tender states that the strategy should reflect the principles of the original 'Blueprint for a Great North Plan' by producing a framework which is 'high-level, strategic and brief'. Page 4 of the tender document contains an indicative bullet-point list of issues that the strategy could seek to address, although applicants are welcome to propose a narrower focus.