Co-author of a report on UK infrastructure investment for The Channel Group.
Businesses have traditionally expanded more easily and efficiently when there has been a good level of investment in supporting infrastructure. From canals to airports, the methods by which goods and services are transported has been key to growing British trade and the economy.
Britain has a long history of being able to conduct business by using well maintained infrastructure, but in recent decades investment in infrastructure has slowed. The once pioneering rail network has not been updated since Victorian times.
This paper will explore the infrastructure investment decisions that have been made recently and the next projects that will bring the greatest benefit to businesses.
London has been the primary beneficiary of investments in traditional infrastructure projects. Large-scale projects such as Crossrail, extensions to the underground network and significant road improvements have created an unequal playing field for regional cities. The Channel Group would like to see a re-balancing of the British economy away from London. This decentralisation is not only beneficial to the regions, but also to businesses and consumers.
Large organisations have already moved many non-key services out of their London bases and this has been followed by head offices and front-line services.
Later in 2016, the Government will decide whether Gatwick or Heathrow should be expanded. The Channel Group believes that the UK needs to move away from having a single hub airport, and that regional growth centres should be internationally connected themselves. Expansion at Gatwick is essential to ensure competition. It is the only option for expansion that does not undermine regional growth. Gatwick can meet the point-to-point demand and keep the London economy directly connected to international markets. To that end, we recommend expansion at Gatwick.
Regional infrastructure expansion is at the heart of stronger growth in the UK. The Channel Group believes that the future of infrastructure investment needs to move away from London as a business hub. Investment should be made in a series of regional growth centres, comprising of clusters of cities with excellent national and international transport links. This pattern of regional growth centres will distribute the economic benefits of trade more widely across the UK and will allow a greater propor on of UK businesses to enter the national and international markets.