042a. Have a clear and shared vision for the geography of your future economy to make the most of existing assets

A deep understanding of the public – and as much as possible private – assets within a city gives local leaders and policymakers the best basis on which to build a clear vision of the economy and how to use local assets to achieve that.

A clear vision that sets out the amount of housing and employment land needed to support local growth and the transport infrastructure required to unlock sites gives partners from public and private sectors the chance to get involved and offer their support in making that happen.

With a horizon stretching up to 20 years into the future and beyond, having partners signed up to this clear vision helps to overcome the hurdles that inevitably hit any local economy or project.

A well developed and long-term vision is highly valued by the private sector when looking to invest in an area or go into partnership with a local authority on a project. Investors want to know how an individual development will be supported by wider developments.

Involving the business community, other public bodies and the public from an early stage in creating this vision offers greater stability and buy-in.

Most metro mayors will be leading on the creation of a spatial development strategy, based upon the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan. These spatial frameworks combine a deeper knowledge of the economy with a clear picture of future land demands and how to make these two work best together.

One benefit of setting out this strategic vision clearly is to head off ‘zero-sum’ political conflicts. If decisions are seen to be taken on a site-by-site basis rather than as part of a long-term economic development strategy, then investment in one part of a local authority or city region can be viewed as simply at the expense of investment of other parts of the local or combined authority. This can lead to projects being blocked by those areas even when it will have the highest impact for the wider economy.

Without a clear, joint vision that demonstrates how different parts of a city will benefit directly from focused investment in city centre development, local economies run the risk of piecemeal development that forgoes the bigger opportunities on offer.