A group of 25 built environment industry leaders is calling for a new public-private partnership to be created to drive development around the Oxford to Cambridge Arc.

Property consultant Bidwells, architects Perkins + Will and strategic consultancy Blackstock have brought together the group of organisations representing a market with assets totalling over £50 billion to press for the new body. The group includes Legal & General, Barratt Developments and Grosvenor.

They want the equivalent of the Olympic Delivery Authority which helped make the London 2012 Olympics a success and have warned that a lack of new housing, workspace and suitable infrastructure could stifle growth in the Oxford to Cambridge region by pricing out talent and businesses.

The proposal has been put forward in a document called the  Radical Regeneration Manifesto, created by Bidwells, Perkins + Will and Blackstock.

Bidwells says the success of the arc’s knowledge-based economy, which has an annual GVA of £100bn, has also caused office rents to jump by 11.9 per cent in the last year alone as companies vie for limited space. Over the last decade house prices rose 73.4 per cent in Cambridge and 66.8 per cent in Oxford.

This new body, which would bring together local authorities and developers, would be responsible for delivering all new housing, transport links, social infrastructure and commercial space within the arc, which has a population of three million.

The arc’s 31 local authorities would sit alongside developers to co-ordinate decision making and risk taking, help streamline planning and speed-up major projects as well as give investors greater certainty.

Patrick McMahon, senior partner at Bidwells, said: “At either end of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc are the two best universities in the world that collectively see some of the world’s most promising talent walk through its doors each year.

“But, while attracting top talent doesn’t seem to be a problem, retaining it certainly is.

“By delivering vital housing, infrastructure and cutting-edge science and tech facilities, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc’s knowledge-based economy can compete on the global stage while having significant knock-on effects for the rest of the UK through supporting industries and connecting businesses.

“But to do so, a long-term strategy that encourages public-private collaboration is crucial.”

Bidwells says the proposed body would help create a supercluster like California’s Silicon Valley with tech giants sitting alongside start-ups and university spinouts.

Pete Wilder, head of property at Oxford Sciences Innovation, the largest fund dedicated to academic spinouts in the world, said: “Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes have the key core ingredients – great academic institutions and tons of world-leading talent – but without the right labs to work in or affordable housing to live in, all of that talent will leave and we’ll miss a huge opportunity to boost Britain.”

Kieron Salter, managing director at KW Special Projects Ltd, an engineering consultancy at Silverstone technology cluster, said: “For the arc to lead the way on the global stage, it’s essential that the public and private sectors take a joined-up approach to delivering development and growth.

“The arc is home to some of the UK’s leading tech clusters, specialising in various industries such as aerospace, future transport, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and aviation.

“However, private funding isn’t going to be enough to create the supercluster the region dreams of. Public-private partnerships are crucial to providing the funding for development which will help combine the Arc’s clusters to create a powerful community of knowledge that shares experiences and expertise.”

For more on the Radical Regeneration Manifesto visit: https://bidwells-news.co.uk/p/BO-DOA/radical-regeneration

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