Stephen Hollowood, Senior Director at GVA comments:
"The Government's drive to support infrastructure initiatives is positive. Economic growth and improving infrastructure are intrinsically linked so it was reassuring to hear. The package to unlock £1.2 billion of investment into Manchester was encouraging, and we welcome the additional £270 million within the Growing Places Fund. However we don't feel the Chancellor has fully considered the importance of providing stimulus to trigger wider development which is vital to the growth of the economy. We would urge Government to open serious positive discussion with other cities regarding similar deals to drive infrastructure provision and thereby encourage economic growth.
"Nor has the Chancellor considered the importance of smaller projects to drive growth. We can not rest on our laurels by solely supporting flagship schemes. Cities must positively promote, as part of a comprehensive strategy, local development and infrastructure using new powers under the Localism Act and funding mechanisms in the Local Government Finance Bill to build upon these larger, catalytic schemes.
"The Chancellor touched on its planning reforms and gave final confirmation that it would be presented on Tuesday. The principles of the NPPF should be applauded. However while simplification of the planning system is needed, it is the lack of finance and appropriate levels of funding that continues to be the biggest obstacle. No matter how simple the planning system becomes that will not itself spark development and regeneration. Developers are crying out for access to finance on appropriate, commercially viable terms.
"The proposal to sell major new trunk roads and motorways to private sector investors to finance infrastructure improvements is an interesting proposal given the state of our public finances, and I look forward to reviewing the details. However our concerns over where the Government intends to source the money from to finance this initiative still stands. It mentioned twelve pension funds as a potential source. We need clarity on how this initiave should be delivered, if improvements in the growth of the national economy are not to be held back."
GVA welcomes government support of London
Gerry Hughes, Senior Director at GVA comment:
"We welcome the Government's continued support for London as the principal driver of the UK economy, and especially initiatives that will help maintain the momentum behind the regeneration of East London and general investment in infrastructure. As the population of London continues to move towards an all time peak the demand for new homes, access to jobs grows and the strain on infrastructure increases. The £70 million for shovel ready schemes will be snapped up!
"The enterprise zone in the Royal Docks badly needed this injection of 100% Capital Allowance - albeit focused on science businesses to really to make a difference in attracting inward investment. This has been a call from all involved in the regeneration of this part of London since the EZ was announced.
"The support for the new crossing at Silvertown is also welcome and indeed is essential for the full potential of Silvertown Quays to be realised.
"The funding for transport in London has been under strain following budgetary cuts over recent years- thus the proposal for TFL to benefit from business rate revenues will go some way towards easing this."
GVA reiterates concerns over confused green policy
Alastair Mant, who leads on Sustainability at GVA, comments:
"As GVA predicted and called for, the Chancellor acknowledges the overly complicated nature of the CRC and suggested it needs to be amended. Sadly, there was not enough detail to assuage the fears of the property industry that this already confusing scheme will continue to confound businesses for some time to come. It's clear however that some form of carbon tax will remain meaning that property owners and occupiers need to up their game on energy efficiency.
"It seems the Chancellor has missed an open goal to use existing regulatory instruments, such as SDLT & Business Rates, to deliver real green progress in a fiscally neutral manner.
"It's also a shame that despite wanting Britain to lead and "earn its way in the world" he has failed sufficiently to commit investment in the further development of the UK's low carbon buildings industry, which is on the verge of attaining world leading status.
"As we stated prior to the Budget, the Government's green policy still appears schizophrenic. This won't have reassured investors of green energy. Tax cuts for the fossil fuel industry, subsidy slashes for renewables as well as "support" for renewables? We would urge the Government to present more clarity in this area."