‘Broader plan needed for real powerhouse’

Plans have been unveiled to redevelop Leeds Station into an integrated high-speed transport hub.

Plans have been unveiled to redevelop Leeds Station into an integrated high-speed transport hub.

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CREATING a ‘northern powerhouse’ must be about more than cutting journey times between big cities, according to a new report.

A new blueprint to grow the economy of the North by building on its existing strengths will be launched in Leeds today .

The Government has said it wants to turn the North into an “economic powerhouse” so the country is less dependent on the South-East for its economic success.

The report welcomes the Government’s intentions but warns it has focused heavily on improving journey times but needs to take a broader view of how the economy of Leeds, West Yorkshire and the wider north can be strengthened.

The Great North Plan launched today looks at how transport plans can be linked to existing economic strengths and areas where people want to live.

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North thinktank, one of the organisations behind the Great North Plan, said:

IPPR North director Ed Cox said: “The government has the right destination in mind with the Northern Powerhouse, but letting it be driven by Whitehall rather than Northern businesses risks taking us in the wrong direction with a piecemeal, partial and parochial approach.

“The Powerhouse has got to go beyond reducing travel times between Leeds and Manchester, important as this is. Businesses and foreign investors have told us that they want to see a more coherent approach to economic planning with the kind of framework found in London, Scotland and most European regions.

“As our blueprint shows, we have some real competitive advantages in the North: in areas like advanced manufacturing, the digital economy and energy supply, not to mention quality-of-life. But we need a business-led plan from the North, for the North, to tie these together.”

James Wharton, the Government minister for the northern powerhouse, will be in Leeds urging companies to become “official partners” of the project.

Companies involved will be consulted by the Government over its plans and encouraged to come up with ideas.

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