Delay in infrastructure delivery holding back Cambridgeshire’s growth

Days after the announcement of Budget 2013 chartered surveyors are reporting a stall to new developments in Cambridge as a result of insufficient business infrastructure.

At a seminar in Cambridge on (Tuesday March 26) RICS members argued that improved business infrastructure is urgently needed for investment in new developments. Yet, the additional £3bn yearly infrastructure spend announced by the Chancellor will not be in the pipeline until 2015-2016. Meanwhile, guests suggested that the area’s growth is dependent on the upgrading of major business routes such as the A14 and A47.

Guest Speaker Dr Glenn Athey, Interim Executive Director of the Greater Peterborough, Greater Cambridgeshire Enterprise Partnership (GCGPEP) explained that GCGPEP has agreed to contribute £50 million for the expansion of the A14 and that they are now expecting the government to fulfil its funding commitments that would allow the upgrade to go ahead: “In the immediate term, we can only look to what smaller scale infrastructure improvements might assist growth as flagship projects await capital spending allocations from Whitehall.”

With last year’s £40 billion of infrastructure guarantees only securing two projects to date, it seems that more needs to be done to bring forward project delivery. Mark Jude from Kier Construction commented: “Improvements to the A14 and equally the A47 are exceptionally important. What the Local Enterprise Partnership is endeavouring to achieve is encouraging, however; we urgently need project go ahead. Time is of the essence and businesses need infrastructure to grow.”

Last week the government announced the lead role that LEPs will play in Local Growth Strategies to access a single ‘growth funds’ pot in 2015. In response to which, GCGPEP will now be seeking input from RICS members on a regional growth strategy. RICS East is now calling for improved guidance for LEPs accessing the ‘Single Pot Growth Fund’ and a greater commitment from Government to get shovel ready infrastructure projects off the ground. During the course of the year, RICS will be providing industry guidance simplifying the complexity of public sector procurement; which, it believes will prompt the improved delivery of routine repair and maintenance projects.

Tim Wainwright, RICS East of England Policy Manager commented: “The £3bn a year for infrastructure investment is hugely welcome but will not come on stream until 2015-2016, far too late many businesses that are struggling now.

“Our members have told us repeatedly that the success of infrastructure projects is about delivery on the ground. Accordingly, in the meantime, RICS believe Government should also spend more time and resource in supporting businesses to gain access to these public sector projects.”