IHBC Yearbook 2017

R E V I E W 21 HERITAGE PERSPECTIVES ON INFRASTRUCTURE DAVE PROUDLOVE Since the financial crisis of 2007/8 and the introduction of austerity economics, there has been a growing reliance on public investment in infrastructure to enable economic growth and regeneration. Infrastructure has a broad definition and incorporates major national projects such as HS2 as well as improvements to the local highways network. Increasingly, investment in tech-related infrastructure is also seen as key to creating an economy fit for the 21st century. Despite major cuts to public spending since 2010, the government has committed to serious investment in projects such as HS2 and the expansion of Heathrow Airport, and has also provided funds through growth deals for more localised initiatives. The recent industrial strategy green paper Building Our Industrial Strategy reinforces the government’s position in terms of infrastructure investment. Another key element of the government’s approach to securing economic growth and infrastructure investment is through its commitment to devolution of policy making, spending powers, and the ability to retain and raise business rates. This has led to the development of initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse, which have identified infrastructure investment as key to addressing regional economic disparities. All of this has implications for the historic environment, both in terms of the need to preserve and enhance heritage assets, and from the perspective of the historic environment acting as a driver of economic growth. The towns and cities that have most dramatically transformed their economies in recent decades have recognised the potential that the historic environment offers in helping to achieve economic renaissance. Historic areas can provide a unique quality of place and historic buildings often prove adaptable to modern needs. They can also provide affordable floor space, which is why SMEs, start-ups and creative industries are often the driving force behind heritage-led regeneration. Any debate about the need for modern infrastructure should therefore also consider the contribution that the historic environment can make: the potential to help create new high- quality homes; provide infrastructure for the entrepreneurs of the future; and establish the context for world-class 21st-century design. THE CREWE HS2 HUB STATION One of the government’s key infrastructure projects is HS2, which is intended to boost rail capacity, greatly improve connectivity between the north’s big cities and the capital and create opportunities for regeneration and growth. Indeed, policy measures proposed in the recent housing white paper will see key transport hubs become the focus for growth and development, particularly for higher density housing-led schemes. The construction of the new high-speed rail network will incorporate a series of hub stations in key locations which will inevitably come under intense pressure from investors and the development industry. Recent government announcements have formalised matters in terms of the proposed route and new hub stations. Phase 2 of the project will deliver a hub station in the south Cheshire town, providing HS2 links to regions such as north Wales and Shropshire. The location proved controversial and sparked a political tug-of-war between Cheshire East Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council, with the latter talking about a judicial review of the HS2 decision-making process, while Cheshire East Council sought a more co-operative approach. A change in administration in the Potteries at the 2015 local elections ultimately led to improved co-operation. Following a period of negotiation led by the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Stoke and Staffordshire LEP, the ‘Northern Gateway Partnership’ was launched. This has since evolved into the ‘Constellation Partnership’, which brings together the two LEPs and seven local authorities across north Staffordshire and south Cheshire in a joint effort to stimulate growth on the back of the HS2-related investment. The ‘Northern Gateway Development Zone’ stretches from Winsford to Stafford. Its heart is formed by the historic railway town of Crewe and the Potteries conurbation, and the Northern Gateway Partnership is currently developing a strategy for economic growth underpinned by the planned HS2 investment and investment in strategic The Spode China Works, Stoke-on-Trent