Offering a bold vision for the future of the Arc

Published: 17 Nov 2017

By: Bob Price

Tagged:

Picture of the rootops across Oxford University

Knowledge corridor. Silicon arc. Brain belt. The National Infrastructure Commission has hit the headlines with its bold vision of how Britain’s economic prosperity over the next quarter of a century could be propelled by the new technologies which are booming across the Oxford to Cambridge corridor.

The Commission’s report makes compelling reading for everyone who is concerned about rebalancing the UK economy. The Oxfordshire local authorities, the business community, and our universities will be studying the NIC recommendations in detail and we look forward to being able to engage with the Government very soon on how we can work together to implement them.

We all recognise the economic potential of the 130-mile corridor that links Oxford and Cambridge over the next thirty years, and there is a common ambition to grow our knowledge-based economies across the arc. There is no doubt that we have the capacity to compete on a global stage with areas such as Silicon Valley and Boston in the US, and at the same time to ensure that we protect the area’s high-quality environment, and secure the homes and jobs that will be needed.

Harnessing the region’s economic potential will benefit local people through job opportunities and new social and community facilities. Oxfordshire can already be proud of the rapid economic growth that we have seen since the turn of the century. We can boast about being the home of the world’s best university and having already developed concentrations of cutting-edge innovation, in particular at the Harwell, Culham, Magdalen and Begbroke science parks. The county is already world-leading in medical and biotech research, in the motorsport cluster in the north of the county, in satellite technology and in robotic vehicles.

The recommendations are building on strong growth across the whole Oxford-Cambridge arc, and they set out the opportunity for the UK to create a fourth economic powerhouse which will rival those in London, the Midlands and the North. Economic growth is achievable, but it must be matched by investment in infrastructure, and in particular in more high quality affordable homes for the people who will be taking jobs in these new industries. New homes must be supported by good schools and health services and by protecting and enhancing the beautiful natural environment that we enjoy in this county as elsewhere in the arc.

It will be important to improve transport links, and to tackle the levels of congestion and pollution so that Oxfordshire is an easier and more pleasant place to travel around. Strategic schemes, such as the East-West Rail line that will connect Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes are certainly needed, but so too are more localised projects, such as the opening of the Cowley Branch Line by end 2019, and major improvements in cycling provision through segregated lanes.

In Oxfordshire we’re already working up plans that will help to realise the NIC vision. All six councils have joined forces with the Local Enterprise Board and the universities to form an Oxfordshire Growth Board. We have already published the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy that identifies the county’s infrastructure needs up to 2040. The Board has also recently agreed to develop a joint strategic spatial plan for the county that will provide an integrated planning framework to support growth and protect the environment.  And it has endorsed plans to develop a ‘Living Lab’ within the county to test and measure the impact of a variety of innovative approaches to improve health, mobility and energy generation.

Our aim is to ensure that the development of the local economy is properly planned, is sustainable, maintains the high quality natural environment which makes this such a great place to live, and works in the interest of existing and future residents, and the country as a whole.

Cllr Bob Price is Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and Leader of Oxford City Council

Share this article

<

Recent Articles

Coming up in 2022
Thumbtack pins in calendar concept for busy, appointment and meeting reminder

Coming up in 2022

This page shows a calendar reflecting the latest expected dates for Commission reports, publications and events. You can also sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter by entering your email address in the box at the very foot of our homepage; or sign up to receive updates specifically on the programme for the second National...

22 Feb 2022 By
We’re recruiting – Senior policy adviser
Digital city image

We’re recruiting – Senior policy adviser

We have a great opportunity for an experienced policy professional with an interest in and good experience of the digital infrastructure space, but who also has the breadth of skills and knowledge that would allow them to work across all areas of our policy remit. Work is underway in earnest on our second National Infrastructure...

17 Aug 2022 By
We’re recruiting – Head of Governance
Image of a meeting pack

We’re recruiting – Head of Governance

The operational independence of the Commission is crucial both to the credibility of the advice it provides to government and its capacity to deliver its responsibilities effectively. To help achieve that, the Commission is supported by a number of boards and committees that oversee and monitor its performance and ensure that its duties are performed...

17 Aug 2022 By
Armitt on drought resilience: fixing leaks, reducing demand, building supply
Dry soil and patchy grass

Armitt on drought resilience: fixing leaks, reducing demand, building supply

In a comment piece for The Times’ Red Box, Commission Chair Sir John Armitt today sets out steps to help reduce the risk of future severe drought in England. The piece, reproduced below, argues for further action on identifying leaks, expanding water metering and reducing consumer demand, and building new supply and transfer infrastructure. Sir...

8 Aug 2022 By

Evidence_Icon_Turquoise Created with Sketch.

Explore data used in the Commission's research, and gain insights from across UK infrastructure

Join our team of professionals supporting the Commission to provide evidence based and forward thinking advice on infrastructure strategy.