Message from the editor | Issue 08 | Mar 15

The political, social and economic imperative to break down the north-south divide with investment in transport, energy and communications infrastructure is clearly growing. 

While London has emerged as the UK’s undisputed first city and a global force in its own right, it is plainly obvious that the nation’s other major cities have suffered as a result. And that is bad for everyone.

Not that a successful, powerful and affluent London isn’t really important to the nation. It most certainly is, and there is no benefit whatsoever in policies or practice which hold this growth back in any way. But increasingly it now understood that vital economic rebalancing goes beyond simply being some altruistic act to redress past failings and boost employment, wealth and lives outside London. It must be central to the overall UK-wide policy to drive growth into the whole economy.

As can be read in this month’s series of articles, ensuring that the so-called Northern Powerhouse remains key to the next administration’s economic thinking is both vital and sensible. It is, as many point out, about creating the connectivity and infrastructure that ensures that the north is able, not just willing, to play its part in the future of the UK.

As the RSA’s recent report on “Unleashing the power of Metros” pointed out, this simply cannot be a “them or us” situation. Instead it must be about encouraging the rise of all cities and “the concentration of productivity, innovation and creativity that will drive our economic future”.

Essentially success comes down to driving and harnessing the power of agglomeration – putting in place infrastructure of all scale, from major schemes such as HS2, HS3 and trans-Pennine road tunnels, through to vital investment in smaller schemes such as improved town centre interchanges that transform local connectivity.

Collaborative, cross regional investment plans such as the One North report are a vital step towards the future and highlight the importance of local politicians and businesses working together to make the case for that investment. Creation of the multi regional, multi governmental body Transport for the North is a welcome step forward on this.

Now this momentum must continue if the North and the entire UK is to harness the benefits that can come from great vision and great planning. Opportunity is knocking.

If you would like to contact Antony Oliver about this, or any other story, please email