Adonis: East-West infra offers new model

Infra Commission chair argues local authorities will deliver more housing if get central commitments on transport infrastructure; report due in next fortnight

National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), Lord Adonis, has told a committee of MPs that the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor could offer a model of delivering more housebuilding in tandem with new transport infrastructure.

In a session in front of the Commons treasury committee, Lord Adonis said that the NIC's final report on the East-West corridor will be published in the next fortnight, and pointed out that the commission's remit on the study was to “recommend infrastructure that would facilitate a substantial increase in housing across that corridor”.

He suggested that the model, which is seeing the development of a new rail line through the corridor, has demonstrated that local authorities will “embrace” housebuilding if they have a pipeline of transport and connectivity projects to base that investment on.

Highlighting that this is also part of the remit of Crossrail 2, he suggested that this could be a strong model for the development of both housing and transport in the future.

Meanwhile, he defended the commission's independence, in response to questions from chair Nicky Morgan over its controversial move to become an executive agency instead of an independent body underpinned by statute.

“We had a discussion that we would be perfectly content to become an executive agency provided we had a memorandum of understanding that made it clear that our independence would be safeguarded,” he said.

“By independence I mean two things. Firstly, our ability to publish our views without any interference from the Treasury at all. The second was our ability to organise our own work programme without any interference from the Treasury either. Both of those are safeguarded.”

He also said that the final sign off on Crossrail 2 needs to come next year, and reiterated the NIC’s view that London should pay half of the cost of the project.

Lord Adonis has also called on the government to reverse its decision to delay the final go-ahead for the Silvertown Tunnel project until the middle of next year.