Belfast Telegraph

Infrastructure investment commission urged by surveyors

An independent commission should be set up to guide infrastructure investment in Northern Ireland, surveyors have urged.

The recommendation is one of a series outlined by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) ahead of May's Assembly election.

The RICS's Northern Ireland Manifesto says the commission could steer investment on schools, hospitals, roads, railways, energy and other infrastructure projects.

The society, which represents 4,000 members in Northern Ireland, claimed such a body would help ensure billions of pounds of investment was made in the "best interests of the local economy and society".

RICS Northern Ireland chairman Andrew Tough said: "Northern Ireland's infrastructure is ageing and in need of significant upgrading so that the region can remain competitive and attractive to inward investment.

"Independently assessing Northern Ireland's infrastructure needs and making strategic decisions in the public interest about where investment should go would be a very positive step towards delivering best value for money and providing a boost to the private sector."

The manifesto, entitled Investing 4 Growth, also calls for:

:: The introduction of domestic water charging and case-specific use of Public Private Partnerships to fund infrastructure investment

:: A five-year Regional Infrastructure Delivery Plan of high-value public infrastructure projects, strategically prioritised, including timetables for delivery, funding identified, and delivery partners outlined

:: The development of professional degree level apprenticeships in partnership with professional bodies, industry and academia

:: The introduction of letting and management agent regulation in the private rented sector to drive up standards

:: Vacant rates relief for new build or upgraded office development for a set temporary period, or until full occupancy is reached

:: Incentives to encourage multi-product and alternative use of land to deter the risk of land abandonment

Mr Tough added: "We want Northern Ireland's political parties to fully recognise the role property, construction and infrastructure plays in driving economic growth and building better communities.

"Our manifesto is intended to help the NI Executive to create an enabling environment for investment, growth and private sector enterprise across the four key areas of land, property, construction and infrastructure."

The RICS is launching its document at Stormont on Monday.


From Belfast Telegraph