Leeds must do all it can to enable its core businesses to access the labour they need to grow, according to the CEG Cambridge Report.
The report calls for investment in new transport infrastructure to allow more commuting into the city from the surrounding region and other cities in the North.
The forecast that Leeds city centre could create 47,000 new jobs between 2015 and 2030 is largely reliant on the sufficient supply of skilled labour.
Commenting on the findings, CEG said politicians must compete strongly for radical transport investments to improve access to the city centre with a robust strategy which recognises a mix of transport modes to support economic activity.
CEG also called for proposals to reduce car dominance and through traffic in central Leeds. Ease of people’s movement between the north and south of the centre while also enhancing links with the surrounding communities is equally important. The geographic concentration of workers with specialist skills enhances the economic competitiveness of cities in a process known as agglomeration. Increased connectivity allows businesses to interact and collaborate more effectively.
Yet the Treasury has observed “it is currently quicker to travel the 283 miles from London to Paris by train than it is to travel less than half that distance between the two northern cities of Liverpool and Hull”.
The report warns that improved connectivity will require substantial investment in new road and rail capacity between east and west as well as the forthcoming HS2 high-speed rail link.
It points to evidence that shows northern cities are disadvantaged in rail and motorway connections.
Jon Kenny, pictured, development director at CEG, said: “The economic restructuring of Leeds means that more jobs will continue to be located in fewer places and the expanded city centre inevitably means jobs growth there. Investment in transport infrastructure will enable this growth.
“It is a fact that the future role of places beyond Leeds is inherently linked to the success of central Leeds. This forward-looking approach must form the basis of the city region’s investment priorities for infrastructure.
“A denial of the importance of the success of Leeds city centre and dilution of investment to serve it would inflict a great disservice on the neighbouring areas.”