Chancellor George Osborne will throw his weight behind Crossrail 2 and the HS3 rail project between Leeds and Manchester when he delivers the 2016 Budget tomorrow.
Osborne will use the Budget to commit to more than £300m in new infrastructure spending, including £80m to fund the development of plans for Crossrail 2 and £60m to draw up plans to introduce high-speed rail in the north.
Another £75m will be set aside for exploring a Trans-Pennine tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester, and £161m will be allocated to Highways England for motorway upgrades.
And in a major move for London transport, chancellor will for the first time say that Crossrail 2 is a “priority scheme” and commit to introduce a Crossrail 2 Bill by the end of the parliament.
“With the difficulties we see in the global economy, we’ve got to make Britain fit for the future,” Osborne said today. “Now is the time us to make the bold decisions and the big investments that will help us to lead the world in infrastructure, and create jobs, push up living standards and boost our productivity for the next generation.”
Osborne’s announcement is likely to be welcomed by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), the independent body led by former transport secretary Lord Andrew Adonis. In a new report out today, the NIC said the north “needs immediate and very significant investment for action now” for rail and road improvements.
“If the north is to become a powerhouse it has to be better connected.” said Lord Adonis. “A better connected north will be better for jobs, better for families and better for Britain. The work should begin as quickly as possible.”
Osborne is also set to use tomorrow’s budget to launch a previously-announced £1.2bn fund to release brownfield land to build more than 30,000 so-called “starter homes” across the country over the next five years. The government plans for the new, cut-price properties to be sold to first-time home buyers under the age of 40 at a 20 per cent discount off the market price. The homes would not be means-tested, but property values would be capped at £450,000 in London and £250,000 outside the capital.