This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best possible experience. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with this. You can find out more about how we use cookies here. If you would like to know more about cookies, or how you can delete them, click here.

Blueprint for a Great North Plan

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. You can read about the history of this collaboration below, or skip to the our latest project which aims to develop a set of ambitions for people and places across the North.

GNP Blueprint

The story so far...

In 2014 a number of organisations came together to hold two events in the North West under the banner 'Framing the Future'. At these, 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 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 debates and interactive voting. Through all of these activities we asked 'Do we need a Great North Plan?'. The response was an overwhelming 'yes' (93%); and, when asked about their more specific attitudes towards the Great North Plan, 58% 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 illustrates what part of the Great North Plan could look like. It represents the best ideas from over 350 people who 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 different planning issues that need to be fitted together through collaborative action; and proposes a process for the next steps in moving from blueprint to plan.

Download full-size blueprint | Download A4 version | Read online


Ambitions for the North of England: People and Place


The different components of the Great North Plan are now being taken forward by a range of organisations, including Transport for the North, the Department for International Trade and IPPR North. From our side, the RTPI's northern regions have commissioned Peter Brett Associates and Newcastle University to develop a set of shared ambitions for improving places and quality of life across the North.


Far from being an under-performing part of the country, the North of England comes from a position of strength, diversity and opportunity.  It currently is home to over a quarter of England's population (15 million people); contains over a quarter of England's workforce (7.2 million people); achieves £304 billion annual Gross Value Added (if the North was a country, this would make it Europe's 9th largest economy ahead of Norway and Austria); contains five of the eight English 'core cities', and five of the 10 English National Parks; and contains many of the country's most affordable cities.

The Great North Plan project also outlined issues that need to be tackled in the North, including social and economic inequality, relatively low skills and educational attainment, historic lack of infrastructure and transport investment, and the legacy of post-industrial change.

About the project

Transport and infrastructure are important building blocks for the Northern Powerhouse, but they need to be knitted into how people want to live, both now and in the future. Our project will add much needed insight into people's needs and aspirations, helping to inform big, vital decisions ahead.

The project team will be holding a series of roundtable events with key stakeholders in towns and cities across the North over the next few months. These will engage with a range of issues within a Northern context – such as demographic, cultural and technological change – which are shaping where inhabitants live, work and play. These sessions will focus on current strengths and capabilities, and from there outline potential opportunities or 'ambitions'.

We hope that this project will promote co-operation beyond traditional boundaries, creating a joined-up approach that would help Northern towns, cities and rural areas develop sustainably, and ensure that prosperity generated by the Northern Powerhouse is shared as widely as possible, not just in the key cities.

Find out more

Further details about the roundtable events will be posted here when available. If you are interested to know more or take part in this project, please contact