Transforming Infrastructure Performance: report sets out vision for UK infrastructure

07 October 2021

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority recently published the latest iteration of its vision for the future: "Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030".

The stated purpose of the Roadmap is to transform how government and industry intervene in the built environment to drive change in infrastructure performance - including through the better use of data, technology and improved delivery models.

It is an aspirational statement, which looks at:

1. obtaining a better understanding of our national infrastructure and the interlinked nature of different systems and projects;

2. identifying and defining strategic outcomes; and

3. translating those outcomes into long term delivery strategies.

Inevitably, the report identifies a need to balance the impact of creating new build assets versus the obvious advantages of maintaining, renewing and/or enhancing existing ones. Advances in technology will drive improved productivity and efficiency - not only in the way in which new assets are designed, built and operated, but also to address the need for adaptation in reaction to climate change, net zero goals and environmental gain.

All of this will, of course, require buy in from policymakers, project sponsors, asset owners and asset managers.

In order to "bring the vision to life", the Roadmap identifies five focus areas to illustrate the most significant opportunities (each of which is then discussed in more detail, in terms of the problems, the opportunities, the vision for 2030, the desired transformation, the benefits to be derived and examples of some early success stories):

Focus area 1: delivering new economic infrastructure to drive improved outcomes for people and nature (i.e. incentivising industry to deliver in a way that addresses a range of societal challenges);

Focus area 2: Place-based regeneration and delivery (i.e. making decisions based on an understanding of local context and ensuring that local, regional and national silos are joined up);

Focus area 3: addressing the need for social infrastructure using a platform approach (i.e. the government enabling greater societal outcomes from its project pipeline);

Focus area 4: retrofitting existing buildings to achieve NZ GHG emissions by 2050 (i.e. adapting buildings to address sustainability and climate change requirements); and

Focus area 5: optimising the performance of our existing built environment (i.e. moving away from an assumption that adding to the built environment is the primary means of improving outcomes).

The Roadmap is a bold and ambitious statement. It identifies existing pockets of world class infrastructure delivery in the UK, which use the latest digital and technological solutions - and wants these to become standard practice over the next 12 months. That will, of course, require impetus, investment and not a little ingenuity.

"High quality, sustainable, resilient infrastructure is central to this government's vision for the future of the UK" - Lord Agnew, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury