Transport for the North is refreshing the Strategic Transport Plan, which was published in 2019, setting out the investment needed to transform the lives of people in the North and level up the country. Even though the North is home to over 15 million people and 1.1 million businesses, the region’s overall productivity still trails behind the UK average.
The Strategic Transport Plan sets out a bold vision for connecting people to jobs, health, education and leisure opportunities – all of which are fundamental aspects of life. To rebalance decades of underinvestment and transform the North, the plan identifies different modes which require coordinated investment, such as rail, roads, smart travel and sustainable transport. Transport for the North is also working on developing a new Analytical Framework that will be able to model future economic impacts based on various scenarios, alongside planning for more tight-knit relationships with the North’s Local Transport Authorities (LTAs).
A key element of the major road network would be to deliver the needs of rural communities, ensuring that the transport networks support access to jobs and education. The Strategic Transport Plan outlines how multimodal strategic investment in new transport infrastructure could support up to £100 billion growth in GVA, which will create an additional 850,000 jobs by 2050.
Copper welcomes Transport for the North’s commitment to sustainable transport, as it is crucial that alongside investment in rail and roads, more is done to encourage behaviour change to increase various forms of active travel. As mentioned in the plan and recently updated policy positions, targeting short trips that could be undertaken by public transport, cycling or walking, and moving people away from driving, is not good only for the environment but also for people’s health. Investing in improved public transport, cycle lanes and walking infrastructure is beneficial to everyone and can also positively impact the footfall in city centres, therefore improving economic growth.
All of this is crucial to achieving the goals set in the document, and should be carefully considered while the plan is being refreshed in a world of changing behaviours and uncertainty. Transport for the North should now consider developing a meaningful and thorough engagement strategy that will enable the body to better understand where the improvements are needed the most to simultaneously boost economic growth and net zero travel.
The body should also consider the most effective way to engage with all levels of local government in a shifting local authority landscape, in light of the recent Levelling Up White Paper devolution proposals. While the plan is about addressing regional connectivity, refreshing the plan will also require proactive and considered contributions by TfN’s member authorities who understand local issues across the region.
The latest Copper Consultancy’s Public Attitudes Research finds that the more an individual knows about infrastructure, the more likely they are to engage with projects. That’s why understanding people is one of the crucial steps to successful engagement – involving both people who will be affected by the changes, as well as those who will benefit the most.
Learn more about TfN’s Strategic Transport Plan and the refreshed work here.