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Oxford-Cambridge Corridor gets £20m nod from Chancellor

By Mike Scialom

Oxford-Cambridge Corridor gets £20m nod from Chancellor
Oxford-Cambridge Corridor gets £20m nod from Chancellor

The announcement in the Budget of £20million of funding for the central section of East West Rail between Cambridge and Oxford via Milton Keynes is another step towards making the Oxford-Cambridge Corridor a reality.

The government has already backed the National Infrastructure Commission’s ambition to build up to one million high-quality homes by 2050 to maximise the economic potential of the corridor. An integrated approach to the planning and delivery of infrastructure, homes and businesses is now awaited, but there’s a slight concern – none of this has been welcomed by the public, and indeed eco-campaigners are outraged that there has been no formal public consultation, environmental assessment or parliamentary inquiry.

A National Infrastructure Commission spokesperson said: “Our recommendations come with the clear condition that new schemes should not compromise the high-quality natural environment for existing and future residents, and do not need to involve any changes to existing green belt protections.”

How the phenomenal growth – one million homes in the next 30 years is more than have been built in the last 1,000 and will, in effect, turn the whole Oxford-Cambridge zone into one giant megatropolis – will unfold without any damage to the environment remains unclear.

However, Bidwells, the only multidisciplinary property and land consultancy with offices in Cambridge, Oxford and Milton Keynes, is optimistic about the project. Senior partner Patrick McMahon said: “These measures are another step towards making the growth corridor the UK’s next economic powerhouse.

“The government’s further support for its science and technology-focused industrial strategy – coupled with this new infrastructure investment – puts this region at the heart of the UK economy. We called for clear government leadership on the corridor project ahead of this year’s Budget and these announcements begin to provide it.”

Over at Carter Jonas, planning partner Mark Hyde added: “The proposal for a ‘ministerial champion’ is a significant elevation underscoring the importance of this project to the government.”

The project has certainly stimulated thinking, with Nick Gomer, EY’s managing partner in the East of England, remarking that “businesses across the East of England need real and focused investment if business growth is to be fostered”.

Building a Silicon Valley for the UK is a laudable proposition, and pretty soon we’ll be finding out if it’s a practical one as well.


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