EFFORTS to bring devolution to the North East will succeed if leaders coordinate ambitions with neighbouring regions, a top planning expert has said.
James Hall, partner at Newcastle-based planning consultancy Barton Willmore, said key devolution goals of infrastructure investment and housing provision will only be achieved if leaders share a vision with cities like Liverpool, Leeds and Greater Manchester.
His comments followed confirmation that Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland councils would continue to seek a devolution deal, after Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid withdrew a North East-wide deal in September.
James said: “The ambition of the Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland councils coalition is admirable.
“At the crux of the challenge is the need for a coherent view – and one which shares a wider vision with the likes of Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester.
“Those cities are showing how joined-up strategies ensure the devolution agenda can deliver maximum economic and social benefit.”
James explained that united agendas, across planning, investment, education and health, would help devolved regions to get the most “bang for their buck”, while also addressing their own specific needs.
He added: “In Northumberland you’ve got great public sector led projects such as the reopening of the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Line and in North Tyneside you’ve got the regeneration of the River Tyne North Bank area. The private sector is leading the completion of Cramlington New Town and the new Murton / Killingworth Strategic sites.
“All are good examples of ideas that require joined up strategies with neighbouring areas. At the national level, devolution must consider the same approach.”
Extending beyond this regional call to action, Barton Willmore, which operates offices around the country, has published a report that calls for a high level ‘Vision for England’.
The report highlights the need to join up strategies among the Local Enterprise Partnerships and combined authorities that now lead much of decentralised England.
It argues that major planning and investment needs are falling through the cracks between devolved authorities and government.
To read the report and contribute your thoughts, visit: https://goo.gl/hE94ZH