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Northern Powerhouse Presents Construction Opportunities
There has been much construction work going on in cities in the north of the UK in recent years, and the government’s move towards driving the so-called Northern Powerhouse is expected to lead to more development – and therefore more opportunities – within the infrastructure and construction sectors in particular.
An article for Construction News recently took a look at what plans have been announced for the region so far, as well as predicting where things may go in the coming 12 months.
Steve Gillingham, Mace director for the North and Scotland, said that he’s been encouraged by what Philip Hammond has promised, but would like things to move a little faster.
The big driver for the region is the HS2 project, which is set to deliver a vast improvement in the high-speed rail links in the area. At present, there are just 10,000 people who live within an hour of Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield in the north of England, and they are all in Huddersfield town centre.
When the promised HS2 links are completed, this number will climb significantly, to 1.3 million. Mr Gillingham pointed out that this will be vastly important for the future of all of these cities.
“For me, part of what the Northern Powerhouse is all about is allowing people to believe that they don’t have to go to London to start their career,” he told the publication. He pointed to the 40,000 students in Manchester, noting that if the majority of them decided to stay after completing their degrees it would encourage investment from a range of companies.
The improved infrastructure would also present significant construction opportunities, primarily in housing where there is a need for affordable homes in all of the big cities in the region to enable “young people to get on the property ladder”.
This will be good news for construction scaffolding firms operating in any of the big northern cities, as well as areas on their outskirts.
Henri Murison, Northern Powerhouse Partnership director, agreed with Mr Gillingham, commenting that if you opened up this region to 1.3 million people it would work in a totally different way.
“What you will suddenly have is a common commuting area and the north of England will operate as [the] same economic conglomeration, like London,” he told the news provider.
All of this fits into the wider Industrial Strategy published by the government at the end of November, in which politicians promised to build a Britain fit for the future. There is certainly significant investment being ploughed into a variety of sectors, in addition to the ambitious railway plans and other infrastructure projects.
More money for research and development was unveiled as part of the strategy, along with £1 billion of public investment to boost the nation’s digital infrastructure, rolling out high-speed broadband.
Greater support for businesses, particularly as we leave the EU, has also been promised, and a boost for investment in the north of England could certainly be of benefit to the many firms that are based in the region.