Northern growth potential debated at MIPIM UK

Published 16th October 2014 at 1:25pm

Today, leaders and commentators from major cities across the North set out the opportunities and growth potential of an interconnected North and greater devolution of powers at MIPIM UK.

The panel, including; Roger Marsh, Chair of Leeds City Region LEP, Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, James Newman, Chair of Sheffield LEP, Richard Threlfall, Head of UK Infrastructure, Building and Construction at KPMG, and Howard Bassford, Planning Partner at DLA Piper presented a unified voice on the importance of devolution for the English regions and the necessity of accelerating improved connectivity and infrastructure to develop an effective Northern powerhouse.

Roger Marsh, Chair of Leeds City Region enterprise Partnership said, “the ability if the North to change this country’s fortunes is extensive and it is time to recognise that the North is not the problem, but the solution to the UK’s growth. To realise this potential we need true devolution, not just decentralisation; only then will we have the ability to drive sustainable and extraordinary growth, that will accelerate the national debt reduction and deliver lasting benefits for the good of the whole country.

With the panel supporting and advocating the acceleration of HS2 and the recently dubbed ‘HS3’, much of the discussion centred around the vital role infrastructure and connectivity play when establishing the North as a sustainable investment proposition. But the ability to exercise control and decision making over critical areas such as skills, housing, investment and transport was also considered vital to securing good economic growth.

Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, said: “If northern cities are to compete internationally, and reach their full potential in contributing to the nation’s economy, improved conections are essential. This means not just HS2 but the also the ambitious 15-year investment plan outlined in the recent One North report. This is about road improvements as much as rail, recognising the need to enhance links between our cities, ports and airports.

“But we also need greater freedoms and to create the right conditions for economic growth. Taken together, these opportunities can help unlock a North which makes a much greater contribution to a stronger national economy. We need all the main political parties to demonstrate their commitment to making devolution work for our cities.”

James Newman, Chair of Sheffield Enterprise Partnership, added, “growth will come from the private sector and it is our job to enable that growth. We have to think behind our geographical boundaries and work collectively to realise the huge potential that direct investment in the North can bring.”

Richard Threlfall, UK Head, Infrastructure, Building and Construction said, “the North has an economy and population close to that of London but offers twice the potential when it comes to driving growth. By recognising the benefits of seeing the North as one economy and setting out a clear commitment to securing the opportunities that increased devolution, greater investment, closer collaboration and better connectivity can bring; northern leaders are putting in place the right mechanisms to establish the counterbalance to London that the UK needs. We now need to see real and deep commitment from Whitehall on these agendas, to unlock the North’s potential and deliver a growing and robust economy.”

MIPIM UK is the premier forum for property professionals looking to close deals in the UK market. Leeds City Region will demonstrate to potential investors that the city region is investment ready and driving sustainable growth.