Prioritising National Infrastructure Investment in a Post-Brexit World

Prioritising National Infrastructure Investment in a Post-Brexit World


David Simmonds, David Simmonds Consultancy


Using a land-use/economic/transport model to prioritise national infrastructure investment in a post-Brexit world: an application of the Strategic National Model


Britain is faced with a range of economic and social challenges as a result of the decision by the Westminster government to leave the European Union. Even before that decision, however, voting in the referendum on possible departure clearly demonstrated the spatial divide between those English towns and cities that are relatively prosperous, and those where many feel disconnected from the national political and economic agenda. Whilst the latter areas may be further damaged by leaving the EU, there is a clear need for greater political and administrative consideration of cohesion within England. A particular area for consideration will be the way in which national infrastructure investment can contribute to improved cohesion, as well as help protect the economy in whatever post-Brexit environment is achieved. Inevitably, with competing demands on scarce resources, there will be a requirement to prioritise the many proposals for infrastructure investment and to ensure that those schemes that are developed have outcomes that are strongly aligned with the new national vision.
In this paper we introduce DSC’s Strategic National Model. This is a strategic land-use/economic/ transport interaction model that forecasts spatial economic and demographic change across Great Britain. It is based upon DSC’s DELTA package with further recent enhancements to the modelling of regional economies, including an endogenous agglomeration effect. This functionality allows the model applications to assess the economic and social impacts of a range of strategic infrastructure projects such as major highway and public transport investments, land development and remediation, and economic regeneration initiatives. Variants of this model have been applied for a number of major city regions in the UK.
Impacts can be assessed at several different levels. At a national level the model can calculate the uplift in the national economy due to agglomeration and other wider economic impacts. With a zoning system that is based upon local authority geography, the model allows for the impact of schemes to be assessed at the levels of region, city region and more local areas.
To demonstrate the model and the ways in which it may assist the prioritisation of strategic infrastructure schemes, we describe its application to design three hypothetical schemes including an example of transport investment, housing and commercial development, and economic regeneration. The paper describes how these have been modelled, how the model responds to them, and their forecast impacts.
We conclude with recommendations as to how the model could be further used for proposal sifting and for the development of a coherent package of investment priorities. In particular, the paper will consider how central government guidance, traditionally focussed exclusively on net national outcomes, can give appropriate weight to the spatial distribution of impacts and benefits.


Association for European Transport