In the UK, it seems every infrastructural project becomes embroiled in planning disputes, political controversy and bureaucracy. Expansion of Heathrow has been debated in parliament since 1958. The idea of Crossrail has been around since 1989, but isn’t expected to open till December 2018. HS2 won’t be complete till 2032. Planners must look on in envy at the speed at which China has created new infrastructure. Many would argue that this explosion of new development reflects badly on the West’s caution and unwillingness to think big. Does our slowly-but-surely approach ensure that the interests of local residents, taxpayers, the economy and the environment are properly looked after? Or is Britain stuck in the slow lane of infrastructural development?
Filmed at the Battle of Ideas 2016, the speakers are RIchard Aylard, external affairs and sustainability director, Thames Water; Kirsty Styles, talent and skills programme lead, Tech North; Austin Williams, associate professor in architecture, XJTLU University, Suzhou, China; Bridget Rosewell, commissioner, National Infrastructure Commission; Christian Wolmar, writer and broadcaster, former Labour candidate for the London mayoral election and Labour candidate in the Richmond Park by-election 2016. The chair is Alastair Donald, associate director, Future Cities Project.