Oxbridge Arc – The New Powerhouse for UK Growth

Posted by Richard Wade on
On 17 November 2017 the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published its report, "Partnering for prosperity: a new deal for the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford Arc". The report focused on a working deal between Whitehall and Town Halls within the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford Arc, colloquially referred to as the Cambridge-Oxford-Corridor. The deal would see new infrastructure investment in the area which could lead to generating hundreds of billions of pounds to the national economy each year and the introduction of the "first new towns in the UK for half a century".

In his Autumn Budget, Philip Hammond announced his support for the region by backing the development of a £7 billion expressway linking Oxford and Cambridge, coupled with the development of a million new homes along the corridor.

The Chairman of the NIC, Lord Adonis, called upon the government to "seize the opportunity" of the Cambridge-Oxford-Corridor and to harness the area's economic potential. By harnessing this economic potential, Cambridge Econometrics' analysis suggests that the current contribution to the national economy of circa £90 billion could see a 178% increase to £250 billion by 2050. This would be achieved by unlocking opportunities to deliver close to one million new jobs and homes, tackling the Corridor's housing shortage and improving local transport connections. All of this would be achieved whilst taking measures to protect and enhance the natural environment of the area without affecting the existing Green Belt protections.

Lord Adonis also said that the Corridor attracts the "brightest and best from the most cutting edge industries" but that the area suffers from a number of plights, namely a "lack of available homes" and the cost of living in the area results in "pricing the local people out of the market". These issues may ultimately result in a threat to the "future competitiveness of one of the most successful parts of the country". Commissioner of the NIC, Bridget Rosewell, made the pertinent point that in order to maintain its "global lead in science and technology" more homes needed to be built since the "brightest and best…need places to live".

If the government continues to back the scheme, Lord Adonis argues that this may result in a "ground breaking deal" for the local area which would see housebuilding double and the potential for the first new towns being created in the last half century.

Many leaders in the local area support this proposition by the NIC with Commissioner of the NIC, Professor Sadie Morgan, calling the deal a "once-in-a-generation chance to create new places to live and work, creating liveable communities and safeguarding the future of once of the most economically important regions in the country". Whilst Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and Leader of Oxford City Council, Councillor Bob Price, described the Corridor as being the "centre of the UK's knowledge based economy", which could be at the precipice of creating a "fourth economic powerhouse for the UK" rivalling those of London, the Midlands and the North.

As a firm in the Thames Valley area believing in the potential the region has to offer, Blake Morgan's David Evans set up a new Constructing Excellence club for the Cambridge-Oxford-Corridor. The Club works with other professionals within the construction industry. The idea behind the club is to put industry professionals in touch within the Corridor area, promote industry best practice and encourage interactive networking (through regular breakfasts hosted throughout the Corridor) between members to help promote business opportunities for everyone's benefit.

A full programme of events for the Club will be available from February 2018. The Club is currently looking for information and ideas for members and welcomes contributions from everyone in the construction industry.

As a full-service law firm, Blake Morgan offers expert advice in all matters relating to the construction industry and would be more than willing to advise both individuals and companies interested in taking advantage of the opportunities this region has to offer.

About the Authors

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Richard heads Blake Morgan's Construction group. Specialising in construction law, Richard’s practice combines both non-contentious work and dispute resolution.

Richard Wade
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Photograph of Jack Davies

Jack assists the Construction team with a variety of tasks relating to both contentious and non-contentious matters.