The Oxford-Cambridge arc could generate £200 billion by 2050

Bidwells Summer 2021 Centre of the Arc report highlights the huge potential in the central region of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc as well as the key factors necessary to develop the centre of the Arc.

Milton Keynes city centre

Driving prosperity in the centre of the Arc 

Cambridge has experienced a growth in life sciences, especially with the relocation of AstraZeneca. Oxford has also grown in the life science sector as well as industries such as space. It has also been highlighted with the COVID research occurring there. While Milton Keynes has established a cluster of automotive, engineering and fintech industries, it does not have quite the same draw, with a reliance on industrial and logistics which is not a major driver of employment growth.  

There is huge potential in the central region of the Arc, to not only capitalise on the end cities but capitalise on the universities and towns in between. The central region also benefits from greater availability of land, lower land values, more affordable housing, good connectivity and urban centres that are prime for regeneration.  

With the Oxford to Cambridge Arc already generating £112bn of economic output each year, this amount could double to over £200 billion by 2050 if the region fully capitalises on its existing strength in science and technology. To be successful, there needs to be both commitment and partnership between the private and public sectors with consideration to all stakeholders. 

Attracting business to the centre of the Arc 

To attract business, the current transport links need to be developed to capitalise on the high growth industries from Oxford and Cambridge. This needs to be matched by creating quality areas in which employees can live and raise their families. Cities like Milton Keynes (pictured) are well positioned but need to have office space that aligns to businesses and are well-positioned in the centre as well as offering a high-quality lifestyle and talent pool. The ability for businesses to access a wide range of potential partnerships, facilitated with local and national government support, can add to the attraction of a potential investment location. 

Attracting investment in the centre of the Arc 

To attract international investors and occupiers, commitment to the delivery of the arc needs to be confirmed at national, regional and local levels. It must also be easy for investors and occupiers to understand its value.  

Engaging the business community 

The business community needs to believe the Arc is an economic priority. This may require a cabinet minister who can make sure it is delivered and help to create advocates from the business community.  

Regenerating and redeveloping town centres 

The Central Growth Zone benefits from a number of attractive market towns, with many heritage assets. With some repurposing, they could be perfect for living and working in the Arc. 

Other considerations

People must also consider how to empower the centre of the Arc as well as delivering it sustainably. The branding of the Arc must also be taken into account. 

View Bidwells’ Summer 2021 report here 

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