This note provides an overview of the key announcements in the budget related to Transport and Planning. Some of which are just re-announcements of previous policies and commitments.
The Government: will take forward many of Alan Cook’s recommendations for roads, including developing a national roads strategy and setting a renewed focus on the level of performance expected from the Highways Agency.2 The Government will also consider whether to go further and will carry out a feasibility study into new ownership and financing models for the national road network, learning lessons from the water industry, to report on progress by Autumn Statement 2012;
It has identified a shortlist of options to increase capacity and improve performance on the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge, some of which could be part-funded through tolling. These include widening some sections, rationalising access to the route, and improving the route of the southern bypass for Huntingdon. In addition, the Government is considering measures to shift more freight from road to rail and to enhance public transport. The preferred package will be finalised by July 2012.
The Government is also delivering on the other commitments made in the National Infrastructure Plan 2011 to target investment where it is most needed and facilitate delivery of major projects. In particular, the Government:
it will support Network Rail to invest a further £130 million in the Northern Hub rail scheme, subject to value for money, to improve transport links between Manchester and Sheffield, Rochdale, Halifax, Bradford, Bolton, Preston and Blackpool, including increasing capacity on the Hope Valley line between Manchester and Sheffield. This builds on previously announced investments to electrify the Transpennine railway route from Manchester to Leeds and build the Ordsall Chord between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations;
explore the case for using the Planning Act 2008 to streamline the planning process for the proposed additional river crossings in East London, for example at Silvertown, which will reduce peak period delays and congestion in the area. The Government is also working with the railway industry, Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London to consider further investments to improve rail journeys into and within London, including longer trains and increased capacity at stations. Further details will be announced in summer 2012. The Government will grant £15 million to TfL for investments in cycle safety, which will include improved provision for cyclists at junctions across the capital under consideration in TfL’s cycle safety junction review;
continue to work with the Welsh Government to consider electrification of the Welsh Valley lines, subject to value for money and an agreement on financing. A final decision will be announced in summer 2012;
the Government can also confirm it will provide £56 million of support for the Bexhill to Hastings link road to facilitate economic regeneration in a deprived area of the South East;
The Government: will publish a strategy for gas generation in autumn 2012, and continue implementing electricity market reform, recognising that gas-fired electricity generation will continue to play a major role in UK energy supplies over the next decade and beyond and has introduced further measures including: setting out plans for the Green Deal to support energy efficiency; introducing the Renewable Heat Incentive; providing £1 billion to support the commercialisation of Carbon Capture and Storage; taking forward the Renewables Obligation Banding Review; and developing five new Centres for Offshore Renewable Engineering.
The Get Britain Building Fund, will be increased by £150 million, which will help deliver over 3,000 more homes and the Government is accelerating the release of public sector land and has now identified sufficient land to meet its ambition to dispose of land with the capacity to build over 100,000 homes and support as many as 25,000 jobs by April 2014. A progress report setting out further details will be published before summer 2012. It is also taking forward pilots of land auctions for public sector land, with the aim of having two sites ready for market by the end of 2012.
The Government will consult on the potential role a social housing Real Estate Investment Trust could play to support investment in the social housing sector. The Government is also implementing reform of the Housing Revenue Account subsidy system to give local authorities responsibility for managing their own council housing businesses.
Supporting investment across the UK
To support investment across the English regions, the Government: is working with the eight core cities on a package of measures to decentralise decision-making power away from central Government. The Government has agreed proposals with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to pilot an innovative new Earn Back Model that is set to unlock £1.2 billion of infrastructure investment across the city region. Proposals from Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield will be finalised over the course of 2012.
The Government will make up to £150 million available from 2013–14, including through additional funding, for larger scale projects in core cities to be financed through Tax Increment Financing (TIF 2), which enables local authorities to borrow against future growth in business rates. Further details on a competition for allocating funding will be announced in the coming months;
It will increase the Growing Places fund by £270 million to empower local communities and businesses to lead development in their own areas, including £70 million for the Greater London Authority.
It has supported the establishment of a new Pension Infrastructure Platform owned and run by UK pension funds, which will make the first wave of its initial £2 billion investment in UK infrastructure by early 2013. A separate group of pension fund investors has also presented proposals to the Treasury for increasing pension plan investment in infrastructure in the construction phase.
The Government will publish the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) by the end of March 2012, coming into force for plan-making and decisions from that point onwards, with appropriate implementation arrangements for local authorities with pro-growth policies in local plans. There will be support to help local authorities get plans up to date quickly.
The NPPF will refocus planning policy to better support growth, will include a powerful presumption in favour of sustainable development to underpin all local plans and decisions, and will localise choice about the use of previously developed land, ending nationally imposed targets.
The Government: will introduce further measures to deregulate and simplify the planning system. The Government will shortly consult on reducing information requirements and on proposals to amend the Use Class Order and the associated permitted development rights to make changing the use of buildings easier, for implementation by April 2013. In addition, new permitted development rights for micro-renewable energy installations will come into force in April 2012; will remove duplication in the consenting regime for major infrastructure development by bringing forward legislation to adjust the scope of Special Parliamentary Procedure, and will shortly publish draft revised guidance to make the regime clearer and easier to use.