Kier boss wants Powerhouse plan

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Contractor and developer Kier, which employs more than 600 people in Sheffield, is calling on city leaders to lobby Transport for the North and the new National Infrastructure Commission, ahead of their respective strategy and spending reports this month.

Kier says securing rail and road investments are needed to redress core connectivity issues and the chance to trigger wider regeneration investment.

CBI data shows that for every £1 spent on building and infrastructure generates £2.59 of wider economic benefit in the northern economy. Nigel Brook, Kier executive director for construction and infrastructure services, said: “We need to be clear that the Northern Powerhouse is not a kitchen sink solution covering all of the needs of the North or an immediate redress of the economic imbalance between the North and south.

“But it is a clear commitment from central government to invest in the North where it can, and this money will largely be focused on transport projects centred on TfN’s remit to overhaul connectivity across northern cities.

“With headline grabbing projects like HS3 and the Trans-Pennine Tunnel becoming synonymous with the Northern Powerhouse, there is a danger that equally important core transport investment programmes are glossed over.

“In reality, projects like the rail replacement programme for Sheffield’s Supertram network or strategic road network improvements to create new links to Robin Hood Airport have much more immediate scope and are more affordable to deliver.

“They can also be very powerful in kickstarting wider regeneration.”