More focus is put on the role of place and communities directors than ever before, according to ADEPT, something that is reflected in the organisation’s annual conference this week.
The conference comes as the Government announces a new £1.7bn ‘transforming cities fund’ to help improve transport links and promote local growth.
Prime minister Theresa May says the Government will increase spending on research and development to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 with the aim of increasing investment from the private and public sectors by £80bn over the same period. The Government says it will work with business, academia and civil society to build on UK strengths to ensure Britain’s economy is ‘fit for the future’.
This year, the ADEPT conference, entitled First for Place, Fit for the Future, explores the current and emerging challenges facing local authority and private sector directors.
‘The future is an ever-changing landscape. Digital technologies provide the tools to enable innovation, while at the same time, posing new and very different challenges that will change the way we live and work. Big data and smart systems require the creation of a broad range of new skills, partners, networks and alliances to take advantage of this shifting world,’ said ADEPT.
‘The role of the director of place has changed over the last few years as has the focus on creating better places for people to live, travel and work," said Nigel Riglar, ADEPT’s lead on this year’s conference programme and director of commissioning for communities and infrastructure at Gloucestershire CC.
‘As a result, place directors and directors in similar roles are thinking, planning and developing relationships within the public and private sector in different ways to prepare for challenges such as the Industrial Strategy, Brexit and how we manage and maintain our infrastructure in the short, medium and long-term,’ he told Transport Network.
ADEPT members and partners are already working within an environment of infrastructure deterioration, housing need, air pollution and climate change, while creating conditions for increased productivity and sustainable growth. ADEPT urges its members and other industry stakeholders to ‘look ahead’ by building infrastructure and strategies that are fit for purpose post 2035.
‘All this means directors are having to bring together strategies that not only focuses on the local area their serve but also at a regional level as devolution progresses and new ways of working under sub-national transport boards develop. This year’s conference programme reflects all this and takes a look at some of the areas we will be doing more work in such as energy and big data and work out what that means for the communities we serve, Mr Riglar added.
‘There will be a greater need for directors to work with other key organisations in the sector such as Highways England, digital and energy companies and LEPs,’ he said, ‘as well as starting to plan for the Government’s post-Brexit agenda when there is greater clarity and understanding of what that might look like.’
Mr Riglar said deciding how to manage our green spaces and link infrastruture with housing needs now and in the future will also be vital in helping encourage and develop prosperity and sustainability across communities.