In the recent report by the NIC, the National Infrastructure Commission, it says that a new area, dubbed the Oxbridge Corridor which many believe has the potential to become the UK’s ‘Silicon Valley,’ could support 1.1m new jobs by 2050.
The government supports this view and has appointed Ian Stewart MP as its official champion to push the ideas and the project forward. The NIC report has outlined the need for more housing, new towns and road and rail infrastructure to make this happen.
Last January saw the launch of an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) chaired by Mr Stewart on the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor. Building on the East West Rail APPG, it has a wider remit that reflect the opportunities and challenges of the region. The APPG has been set up to promote the corridor across parties and to work closely with local enterprise partnerships, local authorities and businesses.
Mr Stewart said: “The launch event for the APPG for the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor was a great success. I was delighted by the number of attendees from across the corridor. As well as Parliamentary colleagues, we had a great range of representatives from businesses, local authorities, LEPs, universities and other organisations from across the corridor.
“There was a great buzz of excitement and a willingness to co-operate to realise the potential of the project. In my role as the Government’s official champion for the corridor, I shall now be setting up meetings with stakeholders over the next couple of months to allow me to map out their priorities for the Government.
“I have met with Sajid Javid and the Government sees enormous potential for this new ‘Silicon Valley’ to drive the nation’s economic growth. There are many challenges and to be successful we shall have to innovate new ways for Central Government departments and local authorities to co-operate. I strongly believe that the enthusiasm on display today bodes well for making this vision a reality.”
The launch provided an opportunity for stakeholders to hear about the progress already being made in delivering key projects, key priorities include East West Rail and the Oxford to Cambridge expressway as well as the latest developments on the work to deliver the long-term Transport Strategy for the corridor. Speakers included Mr Stewart and representatives from England’s Economic Heartland, East West Railway Company and Highways England.
Cllr Martin Tett, chairman of England’s Economic Heartland, the established partnership of county and unitary local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and growth boards stretching from Swindon to Cambridgeshire, said: “The launch of the Oxford-MK-Cambridge APPG is another demonstration of the real momentum which is building behind this corridor, which with the right investment in strategic infrastructure, can leverage significant economic growth all the way from East Anglia to the west of England and south Wales, enabling us to compete for UK Plc on the global stage.
“We particularly look forward to working with the APPG as we develop our over-arching transport and infrastructure strategy to improve connectivity and unlock growth – while also playing a key role in ensuring the region has the digital infrastructure capable of supporting an area renowned for its centres of science, technology and innovation.
“We also look forward to working with new, emerging corridor bodies that include our local planning authorities.”