John Percy, Head of Retail Development Consultancy considers the continued importance of infrastructure investment post-EU referendum.
‘Decus et Tutamen’. The Latin is familiar from the edge of a one pound coin, even if you aren’t aware it translates as ‘an ornament and a safeguard’. Introduced in days of yore, it was a measure to protect coins from unscrupulous types tempted to slice a sliver of the precious metals away. The phrase is a fitting moniker also for our island’s infrastructure; at once necessary and a statement as to the prosperity of the nation.
A priority pre-EU referendum, is infrastructure investment still essential after it? With the Government keen to engender confidence and rebalance spending and investment away from the South East, the answer is instinctively ‘yes’.
How much? The spring 2016 Government infrastructure pipeline indicates some £425bn of planned expenditure, 90% of which relates to transport and energy (a nuclear train?). Laying out this sum in individual pound coins would cover the whole of England in a golden carpet. Should this be chipped away or should it be maintained as decus et tutamen?
We work with the public and private sectors as well as for infrastructure owners including TfL, Network Rail and National Grid. From this we understand the growth and regeneration that can be stimulated from expenditure on infrastructure. A new station increases house prices, helps inform a business location and can become, of itself, a hub of activity, shopping and footfall.
Broadband in an area can mean the success or failure of a local business.
Ultimately the biggest risk to the golden carpet is likely our own Government, with prevarication and delay often bywords on the biggest projects. It is also likely that a few slivers will be taken from the investment. However, the dynamics of population growth and urbanisation are driving requirements at home and abroad.
Of course we must look at what and where we spend with rigour (bigger is not always better). But with the world’s top investors, including names familiar to those in property, actively seeking to participate in infrastructure projects, directly or indirectly, this is a sector set to go from strength to strength. From a property development perspective, therefore, roll out the golden carpet. It will unlock opportunity and regeneration wherever it is laid.