Commission Chair welcomes West Yorkshire's focus on improving infrastructure

9 November 2018

Following the publication by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) of its first National Infrastructure Assessment, NIC Chair Sir John Armitt led a delegation to West Yorkshire to discuss the need for investment in West Yorkshire and Leeds City Region's infrastructure.

In the Assessment, the National Infrastructure Commission recognised that investment in the National Powerhouse Rail (NPR) route is a vital strategic investment in order to deliver long overdue improvements between major cities in the North. Bradford City Council leader and West Yorkshire Combined Authority chair Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe welcomed Sir John and his colleagues at Bradford Interchange, the planned site of an NPR station.


Northern Powerhouse Rail

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe walked the party through plans to develop the improve integration between bus and trains services and house a city centre Northern Powerhouse Rail station as part of the complex.

Cllr Hinchcliffe then chaired a round-table meeting at Bradford City Hall, to discuss the NIC's recent recommendations on building a digital society, transport, housing, drought and flooding risks and carbon. The meeting also included city region politicians, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (The LEP) Chair Roger Marsh OBE and private sector business representatives.


Flood alleviation

In Leeds, there was a visit to the award-winning phase one of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme at Leeds dock, which uses the UK's first state-of-the-art moveable weir flood risk reduction technology, followed by a tour of South Banks Leeds. Covering over 250 hectares to the south of the River Aire, South Banks Leeds will generate over 35,000 jobs and more than 8,000 new homes while helping to double the size of the city centre.

And, on the final part of their tour, the NIC group were show plans to remodel Leeds Station to maximise the impact of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.


Meaningful discussion

Cllr Hinchcliffe, who had invited Sir John and his colleagues to West Yorkshire said: "Today's visit has provided the opportunity for us to have a meaningful discussion with the National Infrastructure Commission about our requirements and plans for infrastructure across Leeds City Region."

"We were able to show Sir John and his colleagues how we intend to develop Bradford Interchange to accommodate a Northern Powerhouse Rail station, which is forecast to transform our city centre and result in 15,000 new jobs and an additional £14 billion in GVA across the Leeds City Region."

"The round table, meeting was an opportunity to present the NIC with our investment priorities and to stress the need for the Government to back the Commission's recommendations, which are key to the ongoing momentum of creating a real Northern Powerhouse."

Roger Marsh said: "All of the key areas covered in the National Infrastructure Commission's recommendations, digital development, transport and housing, flood alleviation, low cost low carbon and revolutionising road transport are key to our ambition to generate over £11billion and create 100,000 jobs while bring our City Region into line with global emission reduction targets."

"Today has been an opportunity to discuss where and how our plans come together and how we can build on those links on a regional and national scale."


Shared goals

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: "The Combined Authority has already committed close to £150 million from our West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund into infrastructure schemes designed to speed up journeys, make public transport a more attractive option, and encourage more cycling and walking as well as cutting the economic and environmental costs of local congestion.

"This visit has been a chance to share what we are doing with the NIC and to look at how we can work with them to achieve our shared goals."

Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said: "We were very pleased to welcome Sir John Armitt and the National Infrastructure Commission delegation to Leeds and the region today to see the impact significant investment can have to improve people's lives and to benefit the economy at local, regional and national levels.

"As part of our ambition to fully realise the economic potential of Leeds and the wider Leeds City Region further government support and significant investment is essential, so we very clearly reinforced that view that through working together to address the decades of underinvestment in the north everyone can benefit."


Strong focus on infrastructure

Sir John Armitt said: "From the cycle superhighway to the award-winning flood alleviation scheme in Leeds, it's clear West Yorkshire is keeping a strong focus on improving local infrastructure for the benefit of residents and I was pleased to be in Bradford to hear about the progress being made.

"Our National Infrastructure Assessment - a first for the UK - has strong recommendations ranging from devolving more transport funding to cities and supporting demand for electric vehicles, to rolling out full fibre broadband and providing more energy from low-carbon sources. These would benefit West Yorkshire and the country as a whole, and I hope Cllr Hinchcliffe and other local leaders will work with us to make the case to ministers to make them a reality."

Rosa Foster, strategic partnerships and projects manager in Yorkshire for the Environment Agency, said: "We are working closely with strategic partners such as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the Leeds City Region LEP, local councils, community groups, businesses and other organisations to get the most out of investments into physical infrastructure across the region.

"By working together, we will better protect communities from the risk of flooding, improve the environment by creating richer habitats for more wildlife as well as opening up key opportunities for regeneration.

"We need to increase the resilience of people, property and businesses to the risks of flooding. It is vital that people living in high risk areas sign up to our free flood warning service which will help them to have as much valuable time as possible to move themselves, their families and precious items to safety."

"Phase 1 of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme is a great example of what can be done by working in partnership. The scheme protects acres of development land as well as people's homes and some of the city's key transportation infrastructure, thus helping the city become resilient to effects of climate change."