Infrastructure bodies or “i-bodies” have emerged as a way for infrastructure strategy to be developed independently of governments and to promote transparent, long term planning based on evidence and due diligence. These organisations enjoy varying levels of independence nationally and locally.
In Australia, Infrastructure Australia(external link) was formed in 2008, followed by state government i-bodies, New South Wales(external link) in 2011, and Victoria(external link), Queensland and Tasmania in 2015. All Australian states now have an i-body.
Project prioritisation is a common function of all these organisations, with many producing pipelines. Apart from Infrastructure Tasmania(external link) (also known as the Department of State Growth), they all undertake project evaluation, funding and financing as well as infrastructure policy, reform, research and advice. Building Queensland(external link) is the only Australasian i-body which does not prepare an overarching strategy. None of the groups have responsibility for project delivery, although New Zealand’s Infrastructure Commission, Infrastructure New South Wales and Infrastructure South Australia(external link) all provide project procurement support.
A National Infrastructure Commission(external link) (NIC) operates in the United Kingdom. It provides a National Infrastructure Assessment once in every Parliament, setting out the NIC’s assessment of long-term infrastructure needs with recommendations to the government. The NIC does not have independent powers.
In Asia, the governments of Singapore, Hong Kong and China have a single minded focus on infrastructure. They pursue a national development model for planning, funding and delivering infrastructure, based on spatial plans. Notably, while each of the three Asian systems supports varying degrees of democratic decision making, none are democratic in the western sense.
Singapore’s Urban Regional Authority (external link) develops a 40-50 year Concept Plan which identifies the city-state’s land requirements. A 10-15 year Master Plan takes the land allocations from the Concept Plan, applies a strategic framework and produces a detailed land use plan which departments of central government deliver on, sequencing delivery to meet market needs.
Hong Kong 2030+(external link) is a spatial plan created by the Hong Kong Development Bureau and the Hong Kong Planning Department which sets the development vision for the city. It draws upon economic land requirements, land use needs for transport, environmental and sustainability assessments and involves considerable consultation. The spatial vision identifies the major new development areas and projects required to meet national objectives.
China’s Five Year Plan establishes the ruling Communist Party’s priorities for implementation throughout the country at all levels of government and across the private sector over a series of five year windows. National, provincial and municipal five year plans convert national priorities to local plans for land, infrastructure and housing programmes to meet growth. The National Development and Reform Commission(external link) is a key player in this system.