Cambridge remains top of the league for growth prospects



For a third successive year, Cambridge is the top-ranked UK location for economic prospects over the next 12 months.

The UK Vitality Index for 2018, published this week by Lambert Smith Hampton, reveals that Cambridge is performing strongly across a broad range of economic indicators.

The LSH Vitality Index assesses the UK’s 66 largest towns and cities outside London to identify which are best positioned for growth and provide the greatest opportunities for businesses expansion. The results are based on the analysis of 20 datasets, with each location ranked within six separate sub-indices: most productive, fastest growing, most entrepreneurial, best educated, greenest and rising affluence.

Cambridge maintains grip on top spot

In addition to being home to the UK’s top-ranked university, Cambridge’s position at the top is underpinned by its highly qualified workforce and strong growth in the local economy and property market.

Now in its fifth edition, 2018 was also something of an ‘Oxbridge year’ for the Vitality Index, with Oxford climbing three places from 2017 into second place behind Cambridge. The city of dreaming spires replaced Milton Keynes as top-ranked location in the most productive category.  

The report says that, despite the uncertain economic environment, a host of indicators reveal that the overall health of the UK’s major towns and cities has improved in absolute terms since last year. This includes wage growth, job growth and new business formation among others.

The South East region is home to five of the top 10 locations (Cambridge, Guildford, Reading, Brighton & Hove, and Oxford), while Leicester is the biggest riser. Manchester leads improvement in the Northern Powerhouse, with Edinburgh the northernmost location in the top 10.

Key findings:

For a third successive year, Cambridge is at the top of the ranking in 2018. As a hub of scientific expertise, the city continues to attract inward investment and is home to the UK’s most qualified residents and its top university.

Transport issues have arguably been a limit to Cambridge’s full potential but improvements are now being made, including the new Cambridge North railway station, close to the Science Park, which opened in May 2017.

Most highly educated: Cambridge retains its place at the top of this index for the second year running, with the highest proportion of residents qualified to a degree level or above and home to the UK’s top ranked university.

Fastest growing: Cambridge has risen to the top of the ranking on the back of strong rental growth, reflecting healthy occupier demand and tight levels of supply.

Most productive: While Oxford has overtaken Milton Keynes, the top ranking location for the past two years, with the fastest rate of workforce job growth forecast over the next five years, Cambridge comes a healthy third in this list.

Overall, the top 10 towns and cities in the UK Vitality Index 2018 are:

1. Cambridge
2. Oxford
3. Manchester
4. Brighton & Hove
5. Edinburgh
6. Guildford
7. Bristol
8. Reading
9. Milton Keynes
10. St Albans

Isabel Watterson, senior analyst at LSH, said: “While Cambridge has stolen the headlines again, the most striking result this year is the meteoric rise of Manchester. The unofficial capital of the Northern powerhouse is really cementing its position as the UK’s second city, boasting a growing reputation as a hotbed for creative talent and new businesses.”

She added: “Interestingly, the two most improved cities are both located in the East Midlands, namely Leicester and Nottingham.  While not featuring in the top 10, Leicester climbed a massive 22 places, thanks in large part to an improvement in its environmental performance, while Nottingham climbed 16 places driven by an improvement in a number of metrics including wage growth, economic output and university ranking.”

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