The Civil Engineering Contractors Association has said that former industrial towns and cities would be prime locations, helping to spread the social benefits of big project spending.
It is one of the key recommendations in a new report calling for a shift away from just using hard economic returns to judge the viability of infrastructure projects towards considering wider social impacts.
Already Heathrow Airport is leading the way with a plan for four regional hubs to deliver its third runway project.
Prepared and researched by leading economic consultancy Cebr, ‘The social benefits of infrastructure investment’ report also recommends that an either/or approach to delivering much-needed investment in London and across the rest of the UK is dropped
Instead, there should be a recognition that investment outside the capital supports growth in London and vice versa, says the report.
It also calls on Government to maintain a commitment to spending 1.2% of GDP on infrastructure, while examining the case for higher social and economic outcomes if this spending ceiling was raised.
Mark Thurston, CEO of High Speed 2, said: “It is clear for the whole of the sector that the debate on infrastructure investment priorities has to shift from cold, hard-nosed calculations alone
“This new report from CECA comes at an important time for the industry, setting out the case for the social good that housing, transport and energy infrastructure can bring to the country.”
CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “Understanding how infrastructure affects people in different ways is vital to good investment decisions.
“We have, in this report gone beyond the usual approach of estimating the economic impacts infrastructure can bring, but instead have considered how its benefits affect people’s lives in different ways. The benefits of long-term infrastructure investment are clear.
“Not only is there a strong economic outcome – previous CECA / Cebr research has found that every £1bn of infrastructure construction increases overall economic activity by £2.84bn – but the research published today demonstrates that there is also significant social benefit.
“Well planned infrastructure investment can not only transform how we all live and work, but it has a notable benefit for those areas which have been left behind over the years.”