A new report published by The Nichols Group has set out a framework for accelerating the delivery of major infrastructure projects, which could prove essential in stimulating the economy post-Covid-19 and achieving the UK government’s agenda to build back better, greener and faster.
The Nichols Vision Report details three project accelerators which they claim, adopted with a focus on the social and human aspects of project delivery, could maximise the country’s ability to rapidly deliver the inclusive, sustainable infrastructure the nation needs.
The Nichols Group’s ‘Framework for Project Speed’ is made up of the following three accelerators:
- Streamline governance and decision making: Take opportunities to increase the efficiency and reduce the bureaucracy of project approval and development. Ensure all bodies with decision making authority meet before statutory consultation begins to agree the formal decision-points and their criteria;
- Speed up planning decisions: Improve capacity in the planning profession by establishing a Planning Centre of Excellence, and expand the scope of the Development Consent Order system to cover more projects. Development Consent Orders currently only cover Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, but could also include 5G networks, big net zero projects such as electric vehicle charging and the largest housing schemes in the new growth and brownfield areas. In addition, reduce maximum decision times by: a) Reaffirming the policy that there is only one substantial local consultation needed on the detailed proposal, and b) Give the Planning Inspectorate more powers to exercise judgement on which issues require environmental assessments;
- Design a variety of options: Where a portfolio of projects is anticipated, such as re-opening Beeching railway lines, learn from successful projects and have more than just one construction option available so the best option can be identified as early as possible.
The Nichols Group says this is the first in a series of regular reports that will seek to explore key areas which impact major change programmes in the UK and across the world.
Simon Kirby, managing partner at The Nichols Group, said: “The purpose of major projects and programmes is to create connections and infrastructure to improve livelihoods and enable growth -and we champion the importance of achieving Project Speed in order to bring meaningful change for the benefit of our future generations.
“We believe the accelerators detailed within this report, alongside a commitment to ensuring diversity of thought and experience in project teams, could transform the pace at which our major projects are delivered and bring life changing benefits to individuals and communities faster.”