Research Impact


Infrastructure investment to promote sustainable economic growth

London public transport

12 December 2014


UCL research led to the development of Infrastructure Delivery Planning (IDP) which significantly influenced government policy and legislation on local planning. All 346 English local authorities now use IDP, with more effective and sustainable use of land, buildings and facilities, and increasing confidence amongst communities by demonstrating committed local investment.

In 2004, the UK government introduced a new integrated deliverability system for planning infrastructure. In 2007, UCL researchers led by Professor Janice Morphet, Professor Nick Gallent and Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones (UCL Bartlett School of Planning) collaborated with the global consultancy company Deloitte in a project to identify the barriers to good planning created by this new system and how these barriers could be overcome. They found that the essential elements of effective spatial planning must include a new and broader role for planning within local authorities, linked with infrastructure provider partners in all sectors. They argued that it was important that the regulatory role of planning in local government and development management had a key role in infrastructure delivery and that partners should work towards greater cooperation on all axes.

These findings made the case for two new tools: local and regional infrastructure programmes, each comprising an infrastructure fund managed by an infrastructure group which would deliver more effective resource management and coordination based on an agreed plan.

The UCL research recommendations to the Local Government Association authorities needed some clear messages about the changing requirements for infrastructure delivery planning, and commissioned authorities needed some clear messages about the changing requirements for infrastructure delivery planning. As a result, Infrastructure Delivery Planning (IDP) methodologies developed from UCL research are now being used by all 346 local authorities in England (an increase from zero in 2007) as a baseline for local planning, public and private sector investment.

Since 2011, these methods have also been used to calculate Community Infrastructure Levy and development contributions. In London, IDP supported the case made by the Mayor for developer contributions to and further infrastructure investment for initiatives including Crossrail 2, while the findings about the importance of integrated approaches to planning now support neighbourhood plans and strategic infrastructure planning through Local Enterprise Partnerships: local examples include the development of integrated local investment telecommunications in Croydon (2010) and integrated planning within a corporate environment in the London Borough of Redbridge (2012). UCL researchers support this by creating both a community of practice and by developing learning modules and providing training. In 2008 Professor Morphet developed a practitioner guide on IDP which is widely used by local authorities.

A broader effect of this work was that public bodies now take a more integrated investment approach. While previously infrastructure providers often worked in isolation, risking duplication of facilities, IDP has been a means to integrate services. In 2009-2011, the Surrey police force was able to close expensive sites and relocate services to town halls and libraries, while in Lancashire and Cumbria United Utilities improved their water supply management and new development plans. In Sunderland primary health services were delivered jointly with older people's housing, and in the Black Country and Greater Manchester, each statutory authority produced single integrated infrastructure investment programme for their economic area.

All local authorities using IDPs engage in community decision-making as an integral part of the process, whereas previously this was only done as separate processes. This has led to infrastructure investment being based more on community priorities. For example, in urban areas such as Lewisham, Camden and Wandsworth in London, the method has led to more efficient use of scarce accessible land resources and the use of brown-field sites for housing. In Bristol, the IDPs were used to make a case for major investment in a public transit link in 2011.

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