Strategic Economic Growth Plan

Closed 20 Jan 2017

Opened 29 Nov 2016


The road to growth - a discussion paper

Executive summary

Highways England operates, maintains and improves England’s strategic road network (SRN) – the country’s motorways and major A roads.

For the first time, Highways England has made a public commitment to publish a strategic economic growth plan for maximising the economic contribution of the SRN.

Drawing on extensive stakeholder engagement, this discussion document presents an outline of our research findings and sets out our proposed approach to supporting growth.

Highlights of our research

  • 91% of businesses in England are located within 15km of the SRN and 47.5 million people (90%) live within 10km
  • Sectors heavily dependent on the SRN employ 7.4 million people and contribute £314 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) to England's economy. These sectors are likely to grow by 35% by 2030 generating an additional £110 billion

Our emerging approach

Based on our research, we have identified four strategic economic roles for Highways England and the strategic road network:

  1. Enabling international connectivity and trade by providing improved access routes to global markets
  2. Supporting business productivity and competitiveness by facilitating safe, reliable and efficient journeys, and by meeting the needs of those sectors most reliant on the SRN
  3. Facilitating the sustainable delivery of new homes and employment spaces along SRN corridors, while balancing local and national SRN demand and supply
  4. Providing nationwide employment, skills and business development opportunities within our supply chain and sector

We already do a lot to support growth in these areas, and our strategic plan will build on this. Our emerging approach will be rooted in partnership and we will confirm our priority actions in our full plan next year. Areas which we are exploring include:

  • strengthening inter-modal connectivity to manage transport demand and supply better
  • improving movements to and from international gateways
  • looking at how we can better support the future transport needs of those sectors currently relying most on the SRN
  • increasing joint working and partnership with bodies such as Network Rail, High Speed 2, and local transport authorities

We would welcome your feedback on the discussion points in the online survey.

The purpose of our strategic economic growth plan

‘Supporting the economy’ is one of Highways England’s five strategic objectives. We already make a significant contribution to the UK’s economy, through our investments, our operations, and our role as statutory consultee in the planning system. But we are determined to contribute even more by taking a bolder and more direct role in supporting economic growth and prosperity.

The SRN is part of an integrated transport system, so we will make the most of our economic enabling role by working with other transport operators in the planning and delivery of infrastructure projects. For example, in October 2016, Highways England and HS2 Ltd signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing both organisations to work together in a supportive and collaborative manner in the design and delivery a high speed rail network.

Our ambition for the strategic plan

Based on a detailed programme of evidence gathering, research and stakeholder engagement, The Road to Growth will:

  • set out new evidence on the relationship between the SRN and the economy
  • define our role in supporting economic growth - more clearly than we have before
  • describe how we will build on success to enhance our economic contribution through our day-to-day operations and investment programme; acting responsibly and working collaboratively, we will actively seek to unlock constraints to economic growth while maintaining a safe and effective road network

The Road to Growth will be a long-term proposition looking as far as 2050. It will respond to the current and future strategic transport needs of our business customers, as well as considering the interests of our stakeholders.

Our aims

In developing The Road to Growth, we aim to:

  • develop a clear and shared understanding of the SRN’s contribution to the economy
  • support the development of the government’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) and future Road Investment Strategies
  • further strengthen our organisational capability to support economic growth
  • provide a platform for more effective collaboration with other transport modes including the sharing of common economic growth objectives

This discussion paper

This paper presents an outline of our research findings and sets out our interpretation, and our proposed approach to supporting growth.

We want your feedback on the six discussion points set out in the survey. The deadline for submitting your responses is 20 January 2017. Your feedback will be taken into consideration before we publish our full plan in 2017. Please read the discussion paper and use the link below to submit your responses.


  • Industry
  • Business
  • Commerce


  • Roads