Project Routemap: building for the future

By - World Infrastructure Journal

Project Routemap: building for the future

The IPA’s announcement of Project Routemap will hopefully usher in a new era of infrastructure planning that looks to emphasise the need for adaptability as well the importance of social and environmental factors. It is, however, only a step in the right direction.

The most recent announcement from the government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) is set to overhaul best practice and guidance for the planning and delivery of major projects. The changes set out in Project Routemap, include an increased emphasis on organisation and transitions in capability across a project's lifecycle, and looks “to ensure that complex programmes across UK infrastructure sectors are set up for success. ”

This new “support tool for novel or complex major projects,” created in partnership with Turner & Townsend and academics at UCL, will look to support the government’s ongoing efforts to reach the target of net zero by 2050, while also helping to “level up” social and economic opportunities throughout the UK. According to Turner & Townsend Managing Director Patricia Moore, it is “vital that we continue to balance traditional drivers such as capital cost with cutting carbon and creating long-term societal value, but this requires careful planning from the outset. ” Placing a special emphasis on the integration of new digital technologies and the optimisation of organisational design, Project Routemap also looks to set new standards for longevity planning – a hugely important step given the imminence of widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption.

This is split into 8 modules, providing advice for various infrastructure sectors (including education, rail, and health) focusing on the capabilities required to take programmes successfully from conception and planning through procurement into readiness for delivery. The same guidance has already been used by the IPA and Turner & Townsend on the UK government’s hydrogen heating programme and, according to Patricia Moore, signifies a greater ambition throughout the UKwhen it comes to major programmes, both in terms of technical sophistication but also the social and environmental outcomes that they deliver. ”

This is good news as, in the words of IPA chief executive Nick Smallwood, in the coming years “there will be more investment in infrastructure and major projects than ever before, backed by both public and private sectors. ” However, it is essential that a mindset that prioritises social and environmental cost is applied to more than just “novel or complex major projects. ” Specifically, in housing, there has been a long-term neglect of a pressing need for both quantity and quality in social and private housing. While the government’s recent scrapping of Section 106 (which enabled the creation of 49 per cent of all affordable homes in 2018/19) and refusal to enshrine the recommendations of the Social Housing White Paper have been backward steps in the effort to build back ‘better and stronger,’ the overhauling of best practice in under-resourced infrastructure sectors like housing could undo that damage.

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