Building a northern powerhouse

In the Autumn Statement on Wednesday the Chancellor is expected to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to regional rebalancing. Here Justin Gartland, head of the Leeds office and chairman of Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, looks at what it could mean for Yorkshire.

The Autumn Statement is expected to reveal how much money will be allocated to improving the transport integration of the North’s largest cities. The announcement is also likely to shed more light on to give more power and control of spending on transport, housebuilding and skills to regional cities.

Improving the transport connectivity between the North’s core cities (Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield) will be integral to creating a globally competitive economic powerhouse with a combined population of almost 10 million and accounting for 14% of England’s economic output.

The reforms announced in the Autumn Statement will unlock a number of new and exciting opportunities for the Leeds City Region and Yorkshire as a whole.

Faster train connections between Leeds and Manchester is a key infrastructure improvement which will enable employment markets to be shared between the Leeds and Manchester city regions, improving choice for workers and competition for businesses.

This upgrade to the Trans-Pennine line is long overdue and is something which not only Leeds and Manchester but the entire region will benefit from. Equally, road and rail links onto the other core cities such as Liverpool and Hull are in desperate need of improvement, and this particular element of the Northern Powerhouse announcement is welcomed.

The Northern core cities each have unique assets which could flourish provided they are properly connected, be this the scientific and technological expertise in South Yorkshire, the logistics, trade and export at Hull or the financial sector in Leeds. If connections (both physical and electronic) are improved between Yorkshire and the North East and North West, the relationships between these city regions will become stronger as each region begins to work together to drive jobs and growth.

The Leeds City Region has the largest city region economy outside of London, with an economic output larger than 9 EU countries. It is therefore imperative that, as for Manchester, Leeds also gets its own directly elected mayor with powers over transport, housing and planning. This will enable the City Region to make a real concerted drive towards delivering the development and infrastructure that the region deserves.