"We want our cities to offer a thriving, aspirational environment with abundant employment opportunities and high quality of life. For businesses, access to labour, capital and markets are crucial. Balancing these elements is not easy"
- Peter Hogg, Arcadis UK Cities Director.
UK cities are competing for resources and opportunities. Determining future prospects depends on effective and resilient infrastructure, affordable housing, a broad skills base and a quality education system. Furthermore, a strong global brand, favourable business environment and unique ‘attraction factor’ add to the potential for long-term prosperity.
The ability to attract this combination of social, economic and human capital is at the root of the investability challenge. Our regions, towns and cities need investment focused on strengths and weaknesses to be seen as desirable destinations to live and do business.
All cities have weaknesses. Some are fundamentally linked to the ability to compete, such as educational achievement. Others are less obvious.
Broadband coverage remains patchy in many cities, including Sheffield and Hull, where fewer than 50 percent of premises have access to a ultrafast connection.
All too often, these limitations are seen as ‘part and parcel’ of living or working in a certain place. However, as levers of competitiveness, they cannot be ignored.
When it comes to job creation and attracting investment, many areas of the country can and do succeed despite these weaknesses. But the costs associated with success are typically borne by local people.
It all comes down to quality of life; expensive housing and congestion are just two manifestations of the price of success. This can only be addressed through joined-up investment in placemaking, housing and infrastructure.
Meanwhile other areas of the country might be more affordable, but face their own unique challenges.
While regions around the country may need to prioritise several types of investment to address different types of weaknesses, they should all aspire to improve quality of life. Where places are attractive, affordable, healthy and safe, it is easier to share the benefits of prosperity more widely.
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