Infrastructure Delivery Strategy: A welcome requirement, and Inner Circle Consulting can help
INFRASTRUCTURE DELIVERY STRATEGY: A WELCOME REQUIREMENT, AND INNER CIRCLE CONSULTING CAN HELP
Thursday, 20 July
By Jonny Moore, Managing Consultant at Inner Circle Consulting
Whilst recent announcements suggest councils may be able to opt out of the new Infrastructure Levy, there is one element of the proposed reforms where opting in could have advantages to the way we plan for infrastructure delivery.
Proposed reforms to the current system of developer contribution include a key innovation: A requirement for councils to set out their approach towards infrastructure funding and delivery. At Inner Circle we think this could benefit not just the way we use developer contributions but the wider planning and capital delivery process.
If councils devise an Infrastructure Delivery Strategy (IDP) they can strengthen the role that Infrastructure Delivery Plans can play. This will require local authorities to engage with a range of infrastructure delivery bodies, as well as local communities, to understand their infrastructure priorities to both inform the local plan as well as their own spending plans.
A well-crafted IDP can be used to inform better decision-making in a council’s wider capital delivery programme, and it should have a use beyond that of evidence for a Local Plan. It can be used to build a project pipeline that has corporate ownership but can be managed by an infrastructure planning team. This pipeline, when coupled with a well-defined prioritisation framework, allows a council to identify and evaluate potential projects effectively, supporting better decision-making on the allocation of developer contributions and other forms of funding. Ultimately, we view the IDP as a tool for change and an important step in realising any council’s planning and capital delivery ambitions.
The ICC team have been working on Infrastructure Delivery Plans for over 10 years, using them to successfully support the adoption of Local Plans, CIL charging schedules, and inform capital delivery strategies. This has given us a lot of understanding and experience of producing best-in-class IDPs that can do the following:
- Help ensure that the Local Plan, and the growth aspirations within it, have a corporate focus.
- Supply an evidence base to improve communication on infrastructure needs with infrastructure providers, communities, and even changed administrations.
- Work as a delivery document as well as a planning document, that acts as a council’s infrastructure planning evidence base and provides a project pipeline to link into wider capital delivery processes.
- Identify and link priority projects into your wider place vision (i.e., local plan) and corporate finance and capital programme (i.e., via the Infrastructure Funding Statement infrastructure list that replaced the Reg 123 List).
We also know that for IDPs to succeed they also need the following:
- Formal sign-off that improves organisational & political buy-in to priorities, improving corporate ownership to help facilitate delivery while also providing public transparency.
- Engagement with a range of stakeholders – the proposals in the recent LURB consultation to strengthen this requirement (alongside being tested at Examination) are a useful stick alongside the carrot of encouraging stakeholders to participate in order to make the case for funding.
- Dedicated officer resource for keeping it up to date (i.e., periodic updates built into your work and team planning, and the process integrated into service-level plans or strategy updates.
- Clear governance to manage and approve production and agree to any changes in priorities, and sign off of the IDP & IFS.
For more details on how best to plan and deliver infrastructure using developer contributions as well as other sources of funding, please reach out to the Inner Circle team.