At the end of last year the government set out a new National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline (NPIF) with over £500 billion worth of planned private and public investment over this Parliament and beyond with more than 40% of the pipeline being delivered thanks to government investment. At the end of December we saw the appointment of Lord Prior of Brampton as Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The National Infrastructure Pipeline and Government Construction Pipeline have now been combined into a single publication. This sets out plans for over £500bn of public and private investment in Britain’s economic and social infrastructure, including the announcements made in the 2016 Autumn Statement. Alongside this a new organisation has been created to provide expertise, knowledge and skills to manage and deliver the government’s major economic projects.  The Infrastructure and Projects Authority brings together two existing bodies, Infrastructure UK and the Major Projects Authority, which puts financing, delivery and assurance of projects all under one roof for the first time.

Setting the scene for 2017 to be the year of infrastructure. Heading into the new year there are a number of announcements championing infrastructure improvements.

Transport for London to invest in £220m in local areas

Transport for London are investing over £220m on a range of projects, delivered via Local Implementation Plans, to make roads safer, revamp local areas, encourage cycling and walking, and improve air quality. With one project set to deliver central London’s first new park in 100 years. A further £500m will be spent on civil engineering projects, a number of complex tunnels and highways projects to be delivered over four years by Costain, Morgan Sindall and Skanska.

Northern Powerhouse – large-scale real estate and infrastructure projects

In the north of the country a government publication, Northern Powerhouse Investment Opportunities, showcases large-scale real estate and infrastructure projects that are ready for investment. In addition the Institute for Public Policy Research have published a report – The state of the North 2016: Building northern resilience in an era of global uncertainty. It offers a comprehensive assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each LEP area in the region.

The challenges of meeting future infrastructure demand

Looking to the future Ann Bentley FRICS of RLB shares her predictions for infrastructure in 2017. She says “there is clear messaging about rebalancing prosperity across the country and the opportunity for our industry to facilitate this is immense.” She also comments that “The NHS, schools, social care, affordable housing, prisons; all are underfunded and oversubscribed. Our industry has the wherewithal to solve many of these issues. With digital information, greater levels of manufacturing and pre-assembly.”

And if you feel you have a solution then you may want to apply for a share of £15 million via the Innovate UK Funding Opportunity:  Infrastructure System. This aims to support projects to develop new integrated infrastructure solutions and business models

Taking a longer term view the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has published its second discussion paper, focused on meeting the needs of a changing population and demographic. It forms part of a series looking at the drivers of future infrastructure supply and demand in the UK. Its conclusions are designed to aid the Commission in putting together plausible scenarios out to 2050.

Are there any lessons to be learnt from past implementation? Paul Morrell OBE, former Chief Government Construction Advisor, talks to UK Construction Online about his views on how the 2011-2016 Government Construction Strategy was implemented

UK Infrastructure beyond Brexit

In a recent survey RICS members engaged in UK infrastructure said that their number one wish was to “inspire the next generation”. The second most popular wish was to “position the UK as a global player“. Perhaps not surprising since the referendum vote to leave the EU.

With much talk about triggering article 50 we start 2017 with the government urging businesses to make 2017 the year of exporting. Encouraging them to seek new markets and seize the demand for British goods and services. With infrastructure projects, for example airports and railways in Hong Kong and mainland China and construction in the Philippines listed as some of the areas of potential. Take a look at the new online exporting hub from the government to learn more.

Winning specifications in the infrastructure sector

UK infrastructure is forecast to be a growth sector for 2017. With a significant push from government, and foreign investment in the Northern Power House, with this in-mind it may be worth reviewing your specification strategy to take advantage of opportunities?

And the role of commercial manager may be one to keep an eye on. RICS have published a guide setting out how the role of the commercial manager is both expanding and deepening in this fast evolving field. Finally in April The UK Infrastructure Show, which will take place at Olympia London, this promises to connect supply chains in this multi-billion pound sector, and offer insight and engagement to all currently involved in – or aspiring to join – major infrastructure projects.

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