ITC 2015 Annual Lecture

Do cities shape transport more than transport infrastructure shapes our cities?

The 3rd ITC Annual Lecture

25 June 2015, London’s Living Room, City Hall, London

The ITC was delighted to welcome more than 100 supporters and eminent figures from across the transport and land use sectors for our Third Annual Lecture. The ITC Lecture series, which was inaugurated in 2013, explores major strategic questions that will affect the future of transport and how we travel.

Simon Linnett, Executive Vice-Chairman at Rothschild and Chairman of the ITC gave the opening address. Thanking the audience, Mr Linnett introduced the ITC’s work and expressed gratitude to the ITC’s Core Funders. One of the ITC’s aims is to link thinking on land-use and transport, and Simon took a moment to mention the recent release of Alan Baxter’s Occasional Paper on Connectivity and Cities which considers why transport is key to our collective intelligence.

The first guest Lecturer was Dave Newton, Transport Strategy Director at Transport for Greater Manchester, standing in for Sir Howard Bernstein. Mr Newton argued that cities and transport are mutually reinforcing and independent facilitators of modern economic growth – modern cities would not exist without transport, and without modern cities, there would be little need for transport infrastructure. Transport investment therefore needs to go hand-in-hand with investment in the places that transport serves and the people that live there. As they change, our cities face challenges for which transport must provide solutions: we need to strike an appropriate balance between the need for cities to be well-connected and the need for cities to make a more vibrant and attractive place to work, live and visit.

The second guest lecturer was Sir David Higgins, Executive Chairman of HS2 Ltd. Sir David argued for the importance of choice and necessity in how we plan our cities and transport infrastructure. He explained that the UK faced challenges in terms of unbalanced economic geography and the changing nature of the global economy, and HS2 was an example of transport infrastructure that could revitalise cities through improved connectivity. He noted that cities are starting to reshape transport strategy to their needs and also observed how technological innovations will transform economic activity, manufacturing and infrastructure around the world, reinforcing the importance for UK cities to be connected to the global knowledge economy.

Following a lively question and answer session, Sir Peter Hendy, Commissioner of Transport for London, gave the valedictory address. Sir Peter reflected on the success of London in recent decades that the way this has been linked to the improvements in the transport infrastructure. He suggested that there will not be another transport scheme for this city that does not include a wider economic case about growth, regeneration, job creation and housing. Emphasising the importance of fiscal devolution, Sir Peter concluded be observing that although the evening’s question might be difficult to answer, it was healthy to debate and discuss these important links.