City Talks: If we build it, will they come?

Andrew Carter talks to Bridget Rosewell and Henry Overman about the merits of big infrastructure projects

In this month’s episode, our chief executive Andrew Carter talks with Bridget Rosewell, Commissioner of the National Infrastructure Commisssion, and Henry Overman, Professor of Economic Geography at LSE, about the role of infrastructure in supporting economic growth and jobs across the country.

Andrew and his guests consider the merits of big infrastructure projects such as Crossrail 2 and the Northern Powerhouse Rail. These decisions are notoriously tricky both in terms of weighing up costs to potential benefits if the project gets the go-ahead, as well as the possible consequences of doing nothing. If the objective is to increase people’s access to the labour market, our panellists argue that improving transport infrastructure alone may not be enough. For instance, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has fantastic transport connections to the biggest agglomeration of jobs in the UK, but life outcomes for residents are poor. They examine all the obstacles that prevent people accessing jobs such as skills and health outcomes, and debate options to improve their prospects.

Listen to the episode below or download it directly at this link (right click and save target as). You can also subscribe to this series on iTunes or Stitcher. The rss feed is

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Derek Whyte
13 December 2017 14:49

Interesting discussion - but could usefully have been complemented by a consideration of what forms the interactions/connectivities between cities can or should take. Peter Hall/Kathryn Pain (and others such as Davoudi and Turok) point to the differential way in which the polycentric network of GLSE operates compared to the way in which Leeds/Manchester relate to their wider regions. While dormitory relations do exist in GLSE, places such as Reading, Oxford & Cambridge have developed linked yet independent economic bases. Hall suggests this is one of the characteristics of economic success - which might lead us to consider what steps would need to be taken to replicate that in other parts of the country. An initial step might be to identify small steps which can be taken on a place basis to strengthen the autochthonous economic base before considering what role improved connectivity with larger regional centres might be. Indeed, for some areas - e.g. Lancashire - improvements in internal communications might be more relevant than purely improved connectivity with Manchester.