Town and Country Planning

‘Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the future’. Government’s White Paper released 27th November 2017.

4 December 2017 | Planning Policy Updates

Published shortly after the release of the Autumn Budget, the White Paper provides details as to how the Government plans to build a Britain ‘fit for the future’. Following the gloomy forecast that a slowdown in the rate of productivity is inevitable, this White Paper provides a long term strategy; making changes now, but also looking to the future, to address these problems. The objective of these policies is to make the UK economy more productive; giving a competitive edge to ‘raise our game’ on the world stage as Brexit looms, whilst at the same time embracing the opportunity of technological change and innovation.

The White Paper identifies Four Grand Challenges;

  • to put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution;
  • maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth;
  • become a world leader in shaping the future of mobility; and
  • to harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society.

The Paper confirms that the Government’s strategy to boost productivity and earning power across the country is focussed on 5 foundations:

  • Ideas (R and D and innovation)
  • People (education and skills)
  • Infrastructure (including digital and transportation links)
  • business environment (finance, business support, inward investment)
  • places (regional growth)


Public investment in R&D will be increased from its current rate of 1.7% to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. An Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will invest in strategic, global innovation challenges - from climate change to automation - bringing together world class UK research with business.

‘Catapult centres’ will receive £178m to continue their success in commercialising new and emerging technologies, while the £115m Strength in Places Fund will support areas build on science and innovation strengths and develop stronger local networks.


The quality and reputation of technical education will be improved, with apprenticeships and qualifications such as T levels. More finances available for investing in maths, digital and technical education to boost STEM skills.


The National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) will be extended up to 2022/23, with funding increased for transport, housing and digital infrastructure that will boost productivity. The Transforming Cities Fund (announced in the Budget) provides finances for projects that improve connectivity and reduce congestion, transforming local productivity by linking the towns and hinterland around our cities.

A more strategic approach will be taken to infrastructure investment, taking greater account of economic disparities between places.

Business environment

All sectors of the economy are encouraged to thrive through greater productivity. Partnerships between the Government and industry are highlighted as Sector Deals. Of the four so far agreed, one is construction. Other sectors are invited to follow.

To support high-growth innovative businesses achieve their potential, an action plan has been launched to drive over £20bn of investment into these businesses over the next 10 years.


Every region in the UK is encouraged to play a role in boosting the economy. Local areas are encouraged to build on their strengths and exploit what they do best through developing Local Industrial Strategies. Local Industrial Strategies will identify priorities to improve skills, increase innovation and enhance infrastructure and business growth. Further details will be announced early 2018.


The Paper recognises the need to be flexible to change and as such, emphasis is placed upon the need for the Industrial Strategy to be continuously updated.

Little reference is made specifically planning, perhaps an issue to be addressed in the revised NPPF expected next year. Matters relating to just how Local Industrial Strategies will interface with the Local Plan Process require further clarification.

For a copy of the white paper please click here.

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