Agenda item


Purpose of report:


To seek the Select Committee’s input into the development of the Surrey Infrastructure Plan including a review of the proposed Prioritisation Framework that will be used to assess schemes.




Matt Furniss, Cabinet Member for Transport


Katie Stewart, Executive Director – ETI

Lee Parker, Director - Infrastructure Planning & Major Projects

Dawn Redpath, Director – Economy & Growth


Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. The Executive Director stated that the Council was expanding its capital investment in infrastructure and emphasised the importance of the Surrey Infrastructure Plan (SIP) in achieving the council’s ambition to deliver infrastructure to support sustainable growth. The 2017 infrastructure study had identified the level of investment needed to support intended growth and detected a significant funding gap and deliverability challenges. The Council had subsequently needed to develop a strategy that would bridge the funding gap whilst investing in sustainable infrastructure and adhering to the Council’s climate change strategy, local transport plan and other organisation ambitions. 


  1. The Director – Infrastructure Planning and Major Projects stated that the proposed Prioritisation Framework for infrastructure projects would be used to assess proposed schemes. The plan proposed an innovative approach to funding and financing and set out a number of objectives, each with a series of outcomes. Proposed schemes were to be scored against these outcomes using a simple scoring matrix. This new planned approach would provide a strong focus on outcomes and the deliverability of schemes.


  1. A Member asked why and how each of the objectives were chosen for inclusion in the plan and whether this methodology was based on existing best practice. The Executive Director explained that the objectives were based on the prevailing Council strategies (for example, the climate change strategy and local transport strategy) and the SIP was designed to bring them together for development of an integrated framework, alongside the development of the Directorate’s capital programme. The objectives were established in collaboration with the Cabinet, Surrey Future Steering Board, district and borough councils and other partners.


  1. A Member questioned how the Prioritisation Framework methodology ensured that the scoring of schemes was evidence based. The Executive Director responded that SIP was underpinned by the 2017 Surrey Infrastructure Study which had examined a suite of objectives and outcomes that the council was trying to achieve. This helped to define the strategies and objectives of SIP. There was also a local level, formal consultation process for the development of infrastructure delivery plans.


  1. A Member asked how the proposed schemes would be subject to democratic processes and inspection. The Executive Director stated that cabinet set desired outcomes from which officers developed the capital programme. The Prioritisation Framework was not intended to create a finalised, hierarchical list, rather was designed to highlight the schemes that were most likely to be delivered based on their outcomes set by the democratic process. This approach was intended to increase the transparency around the reasons behind why certain projects were on the capital programme. The Cabinet Member for Transport added that the prioritised list would form a recommendation to cabinet and elected members would be able to suggest changes and express their views thereafter.


  1. The Select Committee inquired how SIP linked with the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy and what was expected to be delivered in Surrey as a result of this national strategy. Previously, the Directorate was not in a position whereby it could respond in a timely manner to national infrastructure plans and priorities and the Executive Director was pleased that many of the council’s strategies now reflected the direction of national strategy (such as sustainable growth). Once SIP was in place, the Council would be able to link up with the national priorities and make an evidence base to Government that Surrey was a good position to invest in as part of the national infrastructure strategy.


  1. Government strategies were subject to change and the Member asked whether the SIP would enable the Council to react quickly to national policy changes.  The Director explained that the purpose of SIP was to avoid a clear ranking of schemes and to enable a much timelier response to national policy changes and Government funding opportunities with costed schemes that had already been through the democratic process and gained community support. The Director was confident that the new prioritisation framework would put the Council in a much stronger position going forward and indicate to government that it could respond positively when opportunities arrived.



  1. A Member requested further information regarding the availability of staff to support the infrastructure project. The Executive Director stated that additional capacity had been created within the Major Projects and Infrastructure team to drive the infrastructure programme. Within this team, the Directorate was looking to establish a place-making function to focus on planning and intelligence gathering around the schemes, and to start developing the directorate’s pipeline. The team would also increase the capacity to deliver the business cases and identify Government priorities.


  1. A Member asked whether broadband coverage across Surrey would be prioritised going forward to meet the pressure of increased home schooling and working from home. The Executive Director stated that Covid-19 made attaining 100% broadband coverage for all Surrey residents increasingly important. A close working relationship between the Infrastructure Planning & Major Projects and the Economy & Growth teams would be critical to achieving this. The latter was working on the development of an additional infrastructure strategy and the Director – Economy & Growth stated the importance of looking at a place strategically and ensuring that digital infrastructure could be utilised to deliver against a variety of outcomes.


  1. A Member asked what the cost would be of delivering all the schemes in Appendix 1 (an initial list of schemes to be assessed using the SIP Prioritisation Framework) over a 5-10-year period.The Executive Director responded that these figures were developedand would be provided with further detail in an update at a future meeting of the Select Committee. 


  1. A Member asked how the Council might ensure that it did not invest in schemes that contributed to its climate impact. The Executive Director stated that the Prioritisation Framework would ensure that new infrastructure was as green as possible. The Director – Environment was working closely with the Director – Infrastructure Planning & Major Projects, and others, to look at how capital programmes should be assessed to ascertain their likely carbon impact. The Director – Environment stated that the development of the SIP was informed by other strategies and linked closely with the new Local Transport Plan 4,  which would have a significant focus on decarbonisation. The Executive Director assured Members that the aims of the Surrey Climate Change Delivery plan underpinned the SIP. 


  1. The Chairman asked whether the Council had looked at of other Local Authorities’ plans when developing the SIP. The Executive Director stated that the Council had taken a more innovative and strategic approach than other Local Authorities to put the council in the best position possible for future funding announcements. 


  1. A Member requested that a more detailed explanation of the delivery timeline and progress and better communication of expected achievements be included in the report to Cabinet in February 2021.








      I.        The Select Committee ensures democratic oversight of the surrey infrastructure plan by scrutinising the delivery of the plan at a future meeting in the 2021/22 council year, assessing the success of the 15 objectives; and


    II.        The Select Committee seeks evidence of the council working with partner agencies to secure funds and deliver projects and how the surrey infrastructure plan and directorate’s capital programme helps to realise the aims of the council’s main strategies (e.g. Climate change strategy, local transport plan, digital strategy)


   III.        The Select Committee recommends that the report to Cabinet in February 2021 includes a timeline for delivery of the plan.



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