Five urban infrastructure projects for 2017
Infrastructure lies at the heart of the UK’s economic growth plan. Here are five projects aimed at improving the operation and productivity of cities
Report from – Damien Carr
HS2 (Image: HS2/PA)
In his Autumn Statement, delivered in November 2016, the Chancellor of the Exchequer signalled government’s support for infrastructure as a driver for growth by increasing future investment to 1-1.2% of national GDP.
Government infrastructure policy is laid out in the National Infrastructure delivery Plan 2016-2021, which is founded on a pipeline of 600 infrastructure projects with a combined value of £425bn. But looking beyond percentage points of GDP and pounds, shillings and pence, infrastructure is about keeping the country going, never more so than for our cities and metropolitan areas. For with the UK population expected to be 75 million by 2050, the majority who will be living in cities, infrastructure in these areas must be fit-for-purpose to cope with demand.
Love them or hate them, here are five infrastructure projects for 2017.
High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) – Phase One
If Royal Assent is granted in the New Year, 2017 will see the first spades in the ground for the largest infrastructure project of its kind in Europe; and perhaps the most controversial too if the proliferation of local opposition groups and reports of child brainwashing are anything to go by.
Phase One will be a 338km high speed rail line between London and Birmingham, aimed at reducing journey times and increasing capacity with the use of 400m-long trains. Estimated to cost £22bn, this phase of the project will include a major re-development of Euston Station and the construction of Old Oak Common Station, itself a focal point for the biggest regeneration project in the UK at this this neglected corner of north-west London.
London is a world class city of the Twenty First Century, with a sewage system that the Nineteenth Century can be proud of. So with the population of Greater London expected to be between 10.50 and 10.89 million in 10.89 by 2041, Borough leaders may well have heaved a collective sigh of relief when preliminary construction began this year.
In 2017, the real work begins with the start of tunnelling of the 25km ‘super sewer’, its associated connection tunnels and the Lee Tunnel. Starting in west London at Acton Storm Tanks, the main tunnel will track south to the Thames running 65m below the river, before turning north at the Limehouse Cut canal and joining the Lee Tunnel at Abbey Mills Pumping Station in east London.
New Wear Crossing
Anyone who follows English football will be familiar with the intense rivalry between Newcastle United and Sunderland so some may question the wisdom of improving the connectivity between these two proud cities of the North East. Football rivalry aside though, a new bridge crossing the River Wear is regarded as a vital component of Sunderland’s plans for improving economic growth; Sunderland swapped its shipbuilding roots for car manufacturing (with Nissan continuing its commitment to the city following the vote to leave the EU) nevertheless, the city ranks poorly in terms of businesses and employment, according to the Centre for Cities’ Cities Outlook 2016 report.
Construction of the £117.6m road bridge began in 2015 and the bridge work is expected to be complete in the summer of 2017, with a public opening in the spring of 2018. Twice the height of Nelson’s Column, the dual carriageway bridge will be a two span cable-stayed bridge with an A-frame pylon rising to 105m.
Bristol Temple Meads Station
Bristol, last year’s European Green Capital, is a city brimming with confidence, so much so it even has its own currency – ‘the Bristol Pound’. This confidence is reflected in Bristol’s economic growth, which at 19.2% between 2009 and 2014, is second only to London.
To cope with increasing passengers, which is expected to rise from 11 million to 22 million by the end of the next decade, Bristol City Council is redeveloping Temple Meads station as part of the wider regeneration of the area called the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. Improvements to the station will include a new entrance to ease congestion and two new platforms. An £11m programme of infrastructure improvements around the station, started in December 2016, will include a remodelling of Temple Circus roundabout and improved cycling routes seeks to improve both traffic congestion and improve the area for cyclists and pedestrians.
(Image: © Crossrail Ltd)
This mega-project, which edges towards its grand opening in 2018, has become a beacon of the civil engineering world. The £14.8bn project is nothing if not ambitious, involving the construction of a 42km tunnel coursing beneath the Capital, the construction of 10 new stations and the upgrading of 30 more. The entire line, which will stretch between Reading and Abbey Wood, will carry an estimated 200 million passengers a year, easing London’s creaking Underground network.
What makes Crossrail such an exemplar, however, is the way it is being delivered. The project, for example, is paving the way for innovation such as the use of Building Information Modelling through the entirety of the project. Sustainability in all its form is also central to project delivery, whether it be employing a diverse and local workforce, a commitment to reducing CO2 or reusing waste - more than 3 million tonnes of excavated spoil, for example, has contributed to the creation of Jubilee Marsh as part of the Wallasea Island Wild Coast project.
Angus Walker, Chair of the National Infrastructure planning Association, will be speaking about infrastructure policy and priorities at the City Infrastructure event on 2 February.
The day will explore the role of collaboration, underpinned by technology, to deliver projects more efficiently and with less disruption.
When: 2 February, 2016
Where: BRE Watford