Help shape the future of the UK’s ‘Growth Corridor’

Published: 30 Jun 2017



Ariel view of a city with people and buses

Residents in the Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Oxford Growth Corridor have the chance to create a vision for the future of their area, through a new competition launched today.

The four cities collectively make up the ‘Growth Corridor’ – as one of the most economically successful parts of the country outside London, the Corridor has the potential to support a further 700,000 jobs by 2050.

But this is under threat, in large part due to a lack of sufficient and suitable housing making it increasingly difficult for skilled workers to move to the area – without action, the area’s global competitiveness could be at risk.

Today the independent National Infrastructure Commission launches the Cambridge to Oxford Connection Ideas Competition, to find exciting and innovative proposals that link infrastructure, housing and economic development to help create attractive and successful places to live and work for generations to come.

The competition is free to enter, with applications welcome from architects, economists, policy-makers, planners and urban designers – but also from residents themselves who may want to submit their own ideas for the future of their area.

Submissions from international teams and students are also welcome.

Judges will be looking for creativity – but they will also be looking for ideas for how infrastructure and housing can be effectively integrated, and in which the area’s unique environment is protected. The top four entries will then be awarded £10,000 each to further develop their plans, which will then help inform future development of the Corridor.

Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission Lord Adonis said:

“The economic potential of the four cities of Oxford, Cambridge, Northampton and Milton Keynes is huge, offering real benefits to the success and prosperity of the country as a whole.

“But the area needs to adapt and change if it has any chance of achieving this, of attracting the brightest and best and of competing on the world stage.

“Today, I’m calling on leaders in architecture, economics, policy-making and planning, as well as local residents, to help shape that future, and put forward ideas that will make this Growth Corridor an attractive place to live and work for generations to come.”

National Infrastructure Commissioner and founding director of leading architectural practice dRMM Professor Sadie Morgan said:

“From the dreaming spires of Oxford to punts along the River Cam, the Growth Corridor has so much to offer those looking to live and work there.  We need to ensure that continues.

“Our competition seeks to put that challenge to those who know the area best – local people – but also give our country’s best minds, be they designers, planners, architects or economists, the chance to put their creativity to work.

“This is more than just good design – this is about creating a vibrant and attractive community that will stand the test of time and support the future development and prosperity of a unique part of the country.  I look forward to seeing the ideas that are put forward.”

Competition organiser, Malcolm Reading said:

“Transport brings prosperity and activity and creates the conditions for growth, which are all welcome outcomes. The competition offers a rare opportunity to imagine new and enlarged communities, to shape their character. This is all about creating inspirational places that encourage social and creative exchange within a high quality environment.”

Full details of the competition, which is run by Malcolm Reading Consultants, including team and submission requirements and the detailed brief, are available on the competition website.  The deadline for entries is 14:00 on 3 August 2017

Securing the growth corridor’s economic future

Today’s competition follows a report by the National Infrastructure Commission on the future of the Growth Corridor of Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford.

Published in November 2016, it warned that a lack of sufficient and suitable housing presents a fundamental risk to the future success of the area.  As well as a competition to create a new vision for the area, the report also recommended that:

  • The Government should go ahead with the initial phase of a new East-West Rail, which when complete would more than halve journey times between Oxford, Bedford and Milton Keynes;
  • The Government should also invest in developing detailed plans for completing the East-West Rail link to Cambridge, and for a new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway;
  • These new transport links should be drawn up with the specific intention of delivering thousands of new homes in the area; and that
  • Councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships, key government departments and delivery agencies should work together on a strategic vision for the area – the competition’s winning entries will help inform this

Notes to editors:

  1. The National Infrastructure Commission was established in 2015 to offer independent advice to Government on addressing the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs.
  2. The membership of the National Infrastructure Commission is:
  • Chair: Lord Adonis
  • Deputy Chair: Sir John Armitt CBE
  • Commissioners: Dame Kate Barker DBE; Professor Tim Besley CBE; Professor David Fisk CB; Andy Green; Dr Demis Hassabis; Professor Sadie Morgan; Julia Prescot, and Bridget Rosewell OBE

The National Infrastructure Commission has launched a dedicated website for the competition, where entrants can find more information and submit their entries.

This new ‘place-making’ competition is in two phases: the first, for initial ideas, is launched today and closes on 14:00 BST 3 August 2017; the second round will involve developing the top four ideas further, with £10,000 available to each of the shortlisted entries to enable them to do this.

The emerging concepts will be judged anonymously by a panel drawn from a range of specialisms and including Lord Andrew Adonis, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission; and two National Infrastructure Commissioners, Bridget Rosewell OBE, former Chief Economic Adviser to the Greater London Authority; and Professor Sadie Morgan, Founding Director of dRMM Architects, with further members to be announced later in the process.

The overall winning entry will be announced by the end of the year.  The competition is being run by Malcolm Reading Consultants on behalf of the National Infrastructure Commission.

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