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RTPI research on integrated infrastructure planning



As towns and cities expand, they create a need for more transport, energy, water, waste and digital networks, schools, hospitals, community centres and green spaces, and measures to prevent flooding and overheating. The right kind of infrastructure, delivered on time, is key to sustainable growth.

However, infrastructure planning and delivery is highly complex. It involves a web of national and local government agencies, regulators, utility companies and service providers, as well as developers and investors. This wide range of stakeholder are often working to different timeframes, across different areas, and to different objectives.

A lack of coordination can lead to greater costs and uncertainty, and development without the necessary infrastructure. Worse still, it can lead to the construction of new developments which fail to support social cohesion, good health outcomes and economic prosperity. This in turn makes local communities reluctant to support growth, and makes it hard to achieve wider sustainability objectives.

Our research

Across the country, people are developing new ways of collaborating, sharing information and using technology to plan infrastructure in a more efficient and coordinated way. As part of the RTPI's Smart City-Regions project, we want to explore how this is working, share best practice, and understand what needs to change.

To support this, the Institute has commissioned research from the University of the West of England (UWE). In partnership with PBA, now a part of Stantec, the team will interview key individuals from city-regions and counties across England and Scotland, investigating how infrastructure planning is carried out on the ground.


To find out more about the project, contact


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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)

UWE Bristol has 30,000 students and is the leading institution in the South West for employability and practice-based learning. The University has strong industry networks and connections with over 1,000 employers as well as a global and inclusive outlook. Research at UWE Bristol focuses on real world problems and the University plays a pivotal role in the regional economy. With over £300 million invested in infrastructure, buildings and facilities across all campuses, UWE Bristol is creating a place for learning that is innovative, ambitious, connected, enabling and inclusive.

The Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments at UWE Bristol focuses on how to achieve places that are environmentally sustainable, socially just and economically competitive. The Centre works with partners from policy and professional practice, and with communities to help deliver towns and cities that will be sustainable now and in the future. The Centre comprises 26 researchers with specialisms in town planning, urban studies, urban design, politics, ecology, environmental design, geography and architecture. Current projects focus on, for example: how best to 'green' our cities; how to adapt British suburbs to withstand climate change; how to manage water resources in communities in India; and how to ensure citizens are engaged in decisions about Smart Cities across Europe. All of the Centre's research and consultancy is externally funded, with projects currently being undertaken for the European Commission, The UK Government, UK Research Councils, and professional and charitable organisations. The Centre also hosts the 'World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Healthy Urban Environments', which is a hub for sharing research findings and best practice on 'healthy cities' internationally.

Hannah Hickman, Senior Research Fellow at UWE:

"We are delighted to have been appointed to work with the RTPI on this important subject. Through this project we will be reviewing current practice in a range of contexts, and exploring ideas for achieving a more integrated approach to infrastructure planning. We are excited about working with a wide range of both public and private sector players to develop effective recommendations for future practice".

Peter Brett Associates LLP (PBA)

PBA is a leading development and infrastructure consultancy. As an independent practice of engineers, planners, scientists and economists, we provide trusted advice to create value from the land and buildings owned or operated by our clients. Together, we create better places for the communities in which we work.

With offices across the UK, PBA has a strong reputation for its work with public and private sector clients on a diverse range of projects, including major infrastructure, urban regeneration, sustainable housing and water management.


Communities are fundamental. Whether around the corner or across the globe, they provide a foundation, a sense of place and of belonging. That's why at Stantec, we always design with community in mind.

We care about the communities we serve—because they're our communities too. We're designers, engineers, scientists, and project managers, innovating together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. Balancing these priorities results in projects that advance the quality of life in communities across the globe. Stantec trades on the TSX and the NYSE under the symbol STN.

Keith Mitchell, Director of Community Development and Infrastructure at PBA:

"We see the challenges that local authorities, promoters, and service providers are faced with on a regular basis, in practice. We also see possible ways of improving how we plan for infrastructure, and see this commission as a great opportunity to examine the issues in more detail, and to identify better practice and potential solutions. We are delighted to be working with UWE and RTPI on this commission. The goal is to find ways of delivering better plans and better places - with the right infrastructure at the right time."

County Councils Network

This project is part funded by the County Councils Network, which is a cross-party special interest group of the Local Government Association representing England's county local authorities. In total, the 36 county authorities that make up the CCN are England's largest grouping of councils, with their 2,600 councillors representing some 26 million people, and covering 86% of the country's landmass. Collectively, they are responsible for 41% of Englands GVA, almost half the country's entire spend on children's and adult social care, and maintain 70% of local roads.