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Transforming Cities Fund co-development case study published

The Department for Transport has published the first case study from the Transforming Cities Fund National Evaluation – as well as their official response.

The Co-development Process report examines the new ‘supported bidding’ process that the Department used with 12 local authorities as they developed their Strategic Outline Business Cases to bid for a portion of the Transforming Cities Fund.

To help the Department learn from this trial, a process evaluation was commissioned, which held structured discussions with DfT officials and officers from participating local authorities. 

The resulting report summarises 20 lessons which should be used in the future to inform the design and delivery of co-development between central government and local government. The report also discusses the 8 strengths and 10 weaknesses of the TCF co-development process, which these lessons are based on. 

Governmental response

The official Government response to the report was published alongside it. This welcomed the valuable knowledge captured by the case study, and committed the Department to building on the approach for similar schemes, such as the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements. 

In particular, it notes the challenges that local authorities may have in developing business cases for schemes that are developed in support of wider government objectives. As a consequence, the Department will be updating its Transport Analysis Guidance, and will work with local authorities to develop innovative ways of assessing the impact of sustainable transport and other transformational schemes.

The Smarter Choice Consultancy was sub-contracted to Transport for Quality of Life for this project. Beth Hiblin, who project managed this case study, as well as acted as lead researcher and author, said:

“It’s great the Department for Transport is open to looking critically at its working practices, and reflecting on how it can evolve these and work more effectively with local authorities. Co-development approaches have potential to help both central and local government work smarter – targeting funding to deliver locally-specific projects, which reinforce the principles of devolution and self-determination, while ensuring these projects simultaneously deliver higher-level government objectives.”

“On the micro level, during this project our research team received a lovely compliment from one of the participants, who said they left their research interview feeling like they’d had therapy. The great thing with process evaluations is that, while we’re capturing best practice for the benefit of the wider audience, we’re giving the practitioners we’re learning from the chance to just stop and reflect for a few hours. They get to celebrate successes, process failures, and appreciate the professional growth they’ve gained from their experiences.”

Transforming Cities Fund National Evaluation

The Transforming Cities Fund is a £2.45 billion fund, shared by 18 local areas across England. It is being invested in intra-city public and sustainable transport improvements – improving connectivity with the aim of increasing cities’ productivity and prosperity. Six mayoral combined authorities received funding based on a per capita allocation; 12 other local areas were awarded funding as through a competitive bidding process.

The Transforming Cities Fund National Evaluation is the 5-year independent evaluation of the impact of the Fund. It is being delivered by a consortium of the University of the West of England, Sustrans and Transport for Quality of Life. Our lead consultant, Beth Hiblin, is sub-contracted as the Transforming Cities Fund National Evaluation project manager.

Other experts involved in the delivery of the co-development case study were: Thomas Calvert (University of the West of England), Ruth Van Ry (Sustrans), Lisa Hopkinson, Sally Cairns and Lynn Sloman (Transport for Quality of Life).

Find out more

Download The Co-development Process report.

Download the official Government response.

Read about how we can help with your social research or process evaluation, or the development of sustainable transport funding streams and programmes.