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Sat February 27 2021

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National Infrastructure Strategy: Project Speed

26 Nov 20 The prime minister launched what he called the Project Speed taskforce in summer 2020 to accelerate and improve the delivery of infrastructure.

The prime minister wants to speed up the planning and execution of construction projects
The prime minister wants to speed up the planning and execution of construction projects

Project Speed has reviewed the end-to-end delivery process working with experts and applying learnings across a number of case study projects to test and iterate a comprehensive package of reforms, the National Infrastructure Strategy document reveals.

On some of these projects, the taskforce has already found potentially significant time savings through more efficient and focused decision making, and will be accelerated further over the course of this parliament, it says.

The taskforce reckons that it can cut project delivery times by a third.

“Project Speed represents a revolution in the government’s approach to delivering infrastructure projects better, greener, and faster. Embedding these reforms will require strong drive from government, legislative reform and strengthening working relationships with industry,” the government says.

Reform relies on a package of measures across four areas, some of which are familiar and have already been widely reported:

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• Reforming infrastructure planning and better environmental regulations: accelerating planning permission by removing blockers and inefficiencies in current planning regimes, allowing more dynamic project development

• Simplifying procurement regulations and modernising the construction sector: designing more streamlined procurement regulations after EU exit, enabling government to use its weight as a customer to support the construction industry in adopting modern, highly productive practices

• More effective decision making: front-loading decision making – stopping or progressing schemes earlier; streamlining and condensing governance, with assurance and approval milestones planned upfront and bringing in functional expertise earlier; and monitoring and evaluating projects using better data to support continuous improvement and policy reform

• A step change in capability and leadership: accelerating investment in major project expertise and delivery skills; and recruiting expert leadership and improving the skills base across the country to ensure every area can deliver the infrastructure it needs.

The National Infrastructure Strategy says: “This is a major reform package and the prize is substantial – in aggregate, these reforms could accelerate delivery of infrastructure projects by up to a third. Much of the reform package relates to reserved policy and will apply to England. The UK government will work in partnership with the devolved administrations to ensure learning.”

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