Yesterday (5 July) saw Commissioners up in Leeds for our third regional visit of the summer, meeting West Yorkshire leaders and businesses to better understand the city region’s infrastructure priorities.
After a one-to-one meeting, Sir John Armitt and West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin co-hosted a roundtable with representatives from the combined authority, Leeds City Council, and businesses responsible for key aspects of the region’s infrastructure. The importance of improved connectivity was a priority: the Commission heard about how the region planned to get the most value from planned investment in a mass transit system – part of the region’s devolution deal with government – to support wider objectives to improve productivity levels, attract new investment and raise skills across West Yorkshire.
Commissioners also discussed West Yorkshire’s response to the challenge of carbon reduction and how the region is making use of available tools, technologies and financing opportunities to meet this goal, and shared insights from our new report on the role public transport schemes can play in tackling traffic congestion in large cities, and how such investment can be future proofed against changing working and leisure habits following the Covid pandemic.
Following the roundtable, Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin said:
“The National Infrastructure Commission plays an important role in government decision making and we were keen to help them understand the challenges and the opportunities facing West Yorkshire. Today was an opportunity to showcase the infrastructure improvements we’re already making, but also to outline our vision for mass transit in West Yorkshire and the role it can play in connecting all communities to jobs and opportunities and improving our air quality.
It was great to have a chance also to discuss how we can get the most value out of the funding we receive from West Yorkshire’s devolution deal, by working in partnership with the NIC.”
The visit is part of a series of engagements with city regions to gather evidence in the run-up to the next National Infrastructure Assessment. As well as opportunities to engage directly with stakeholders, the Commission saw first hand a glimpse of how Leeds is addressing its ambitions to decarbonise the city.
The Climate Innovation District under construction on the banks of the River Aire gave Commissioners the opportunity to learn more about how the city and the developers worked together to build infrastructure planning into the development of this new low carbon community, and saw how zero emissions could be better supported through measures such as innovative car-free street design and energy efficient housing design.
Finally, North and West Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce hosted a roundtable, where Sir John discussed with local business leaders the importance of effective transport networks to the region’s ambitions for a thriving, greener economy which can support more skilled jobs in the region and beyond.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said: “West Yorkshire is as a place where industry and innovation flourishes, and effective long term planning and investment will help ensure that remains the case for decades to come. The country as a whole faces an array of challenges and opportunities in the second half of this century, and today’s visit has given us invaluable insights to inform the recommendations we’ll make in next year’s National Infrastructure Assessment.”