Council of the North plan aims to help boost Northern Powerhouse

Council of the North plan aims to help boost Northern Powerhouse

The Northern Powerhouse will develop more smoothly, effectively and swiftly if a new 'Council of the North' is formed, according to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

In its report on the Northern Powerhouse titled Delivering a Northern Infrastructure Strategy, the ICE listed 12 recommendations that it believes could help speed up the process of turning construction projects into reality, developing the regional economy and improving skills. 

The new council should not only have the powers to plan and coordinate major developments, but should also have the power to raise revenues and borrow funds, the report argued.

Further recommendations include a northern infrastructure strategy and a northern spatial strategy, as well as giving more planning powers to Transport for the North. 

Commenting on the plans, Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Steering Group Richard Threlfall said: "We need to take control of our own destiny, set up the institutions to coordinate a one-North approach and invest in best-in-class infrastructure and skills."

Having "high-performing infrastructure" is central to the success of the Northern Powerhouse, said ICE Yorkshire and Humber regional director Penny Marshall, a member of the steering group and co-author of the report.

Summarising the document's ambitions, she said: "This report and the recommendations included are aimed at helping the Northern Powerhouse become not just a national success story but a global leader in economic productivity and quality of life."

The Northern Powerhouse project has already seen projects like the Ordsall Chord rail link between Piccadilly and Victoria stations in Manchester coming to fruition, with the region also set to share in the HS2 project.

However, business and political leaders in the region were unhappy at a recent government decision to mothball plans to electrify the Trans-Pennine Rail network. Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham accused ministers of showing favouritism to London when the decision was swiftly followed by confirmation of government backing for Crossrail 2 in London.