Cities Programme   |   Study

Principles for effective urban infrastructure

The final report of the Next Steps for Cities Programme, highlighting lessons learnt from good practice on developing local infrastructure strategies.

Tagged: Design & FundingEnvironmentNational Infrastructure AssessmentPlaceTransport

Executive Summary

One of the central recommendations made in the first National Infrastructure Assessment was the need to improve transport networks in cities, recognising that the current system of funding and planning for urban transport – with its lack of long-term planning – is holding back much needed progress.

The Commission recommended significant central government investment in urban transport and devolved, long-term funding settlements to all cities to give them the freedom and resources to plan and deliver effective transport networks. The Commission also recommended that government identify and invest, alongside cities, in a wave of major transport projects in the fastest growing, most congested cities to enable sustainable growth. 

The Commission’s Next Steps for Cities programme launched following the publication of the National Infrastructure Assessment. The programme aimed to help cities prepare ambitious, effective and integrated strategies for transport, employment and housing. The programme was built around a series of events for cities to share knowledge and best practice on key topics of relevance to integrated infrastructure planning. Alongside this was in-depth work with a selection of five case study cities as they embarked on developing their own local infrastructure strategies.

In partnership with cities from across the country, the National Infrastructure Commission has developed guidance for cities seeking to develop ambitious, effective infrastructure strategies. The guidance in this resource highlights some of the approaches that can support success, informed by real life examples from engagement with a large group of cities as well as in-depth work with five case study cities. It provides advice that can be applied by cities of all sizes and operating under all governance models. 

Originally developed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, this programme and guidance has subsequently taken on a new significance, with significant uncertainty regarding future travel demand and employment patterns. 

Putting in place ambitious, effective strategies for transport, housing and employment in growing and congested cities will be essential to support economic recovery. Locally, such strategies will allow cities to make the most of devolved powers and contribute to the national objectives of ensuring balanced growth across every region of the country. 

The findings of this programme include eight key principles for effective and ambitious urban infrastructure strategies. The principles demonstrate the cycle that strategy development should go through, from developing a shared vision for the city’s future to choosing priorities based on the best evidence and bringing partners along. 

Building on these principles, this resource provides a review of themes that urban infrastructure strategies in different places may need to consider, based on the knowledge and expertise that cities and researchers shared over the course of the programme. The issues discussed are all at the heart of what citizens expect their infrastructure to provide, from economic opportunity to inclusive places and a clean environment. 

Finally the programme shares the experience of five local authorities who have been developing their own infrastructure strategies over the last eighteen months, in Basildon, Derby, Exeter, Liverpool and West Yorkshire.  

Picture of Derby from the air

Status:  Completed

Cities Programme

A programme of work with a range of cities to share knowledge and expertise, and to help local leaders develop long term strategies.

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Latest Updates

Armitt speech on principles for urban infrastructure
Portrait of Sir John Armitt

Armitt speech on principles for urban infrastructure

Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, delivered a speech today (7 October 2020) at the launch of the Commission’s report, Principles for effective urban infrastructure. The launch event was co-hosted with Centre for Cities. The text of Sir John’s speech can be found below.   Before I begin let me thank our...

7 Oct 2020 By

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