The Government should use the opportunity of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) to empower Local Authorities (LA) and Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) to lead the redesign of the built environment, and in doing so embed post-COVID resilience into our communities, according to the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE).
The business association which represents the professional services companies large and small who design, deliver and operate our national infrastructure, has shared details of its CSR representation which also calls for strategic infrastructure investments to bolster society’s economic, climate and social resilience.
Commenting on ACE’s representation, chief executive Hannah Vickers, said: “This year has brought into sharp relief the need for a more flexible and resilient society and the CSR is a great opportunity to embed this thinking across Government. We have put forward practical ideas to build resilience – whether helping communities adapt to changing post-COVID needs, meeting the climate challenges of Net Zero through tangible proposals, or helping the built environment play its part in wider economic recovery.”
On social resilience, ACE highlighted the need for local authorities and LEPs to be given a bolstered role as leaders of regeneration efforts through the use of imaginative planning and design reforms which encourage flexible, multi-use local infrastructure as well as housing. It also suggested progress on a number of transport schemes including, Northern Powerhouse Rail, to connect communities to opportunity.
With the 2020s identified as ‘make or break time’ for society’s Net Zero aspirations, ACE highlighted the need for investments in hydrogen as an energy source and Carbon Capture Storage technology in Teesside, Humber and the North West. It also stressed the importance of a shift in approach to value, with take-up of the Construction Innovation Hub's value toolkit actively encouraged.
The industry’s role as a catalyst for further economic growth was also underlined. ACE called for moves which would improve the confidence of business leaders, such as republishing the IPA procurement pipeline every six months, and bringing forward the design and development phases of projects in the pipeline to fast-track economic activity.
Ms Vickers continued: “The CSR is a great opportunity to generate additional business confidence for our industry which represents over 8% of GDP. We have a key role to play in both wider economic recovery and in job creation, and I hope that Government will recognise this when considering our practical yet innovative proposals to improve society’s resilience.”