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England’s ’Silicon Valley’ needs joined-up strategy says National Infrastructure Commission

Published: Thursday, 24th November 2016

Report highlights an under supply of homes in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor made worse by poor transport connectivity between the cities…

The Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor, touted as potentially Britain’s answer to the ‘Silicon Valley’ in the US, faces a chronic under supply of homes. The shortage is made worse by poor east-west transport connectivity, according to a report just published by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

Two of the least affordable cities in the UK lie within the corridor and the area as a whole has consistently failed to build the number of homes it needs.

The Commission has stressed that without a joined-up plan for housing, jobs and infrastructure across the corridor, it will be left behind its international competitors. “However by providing the foundations for such a strategy, new east-west transport links present a once in a generation opportunity to secure the area’s future success” argued the NIC.

It has recommended that the government should press ahead with the initial phase of the East West Rail project, a new link cutting journey times by more than half on the route from Oxford to Bedford and Milton Keynes. The report has also urged detailed plans for both a new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway and the next phase of East West Rail, which would complete the link to Cambridge.

Plans for these major new transport links should be drawn up with the specific intention of securing the tens of thousands of new homes this area needs.

Local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, key government departments and national delivery agencies should work together to develop a strategic vision for housing, jobs and infrastructure across the corridor, as well as proposals for the joint governance arrangements required to deliver co-ordinated planning.

This should include the consideration of ambitious new delivery mechanisms, such as development corporations focused on new transport hubs and interchanges. The NIC has stressed that the quality of infrastructure and its impact on maintaining and enhancing the built environment of the corridor should be central to any strategic plan for the area.

Read the news story from the NIC.

Roger Milne