Last Tuesday, more than 500 delegates attended the Estates Gazette/ Bidwells conference at The Francis Crick Institute in London examining The Oxford-Cambridge Arc. The sense of expectation and feeling that we were being told about the next big thing was palpable.
Speakers were euphoric in their depiction of The Arc as a place to do business and its impact on UK plc to generate income for the Exchequer.
Ahmed Goga, director of strategy and programmes at OxLEP, stressed how The Arc is not just ‘some parochial conversation’ but should aim to generate ‘brilliance every 20 miles’ and compete with two other global locations such as Quantum Valley, Waterloo, Canada and Boston Metropolitan, USA.
In contrast, he also highlighted the danger of a ‘culture of contentment’ spreading across the region which could cloud decision making and, without strong leadership from the Government, the many tribal issues of the many councils could block the lofty aims of The Arc.
Some of the themes mentioned during the morning by the speakers included:
* The need for leadership from the Government and key agencies
* The need to build transport links first but be smart in delivery
* Connectivity and creation of hubs
* The need to build housing around the transport nodes
* The need to invest in knowledge clusters and growth sectors
* Ensuring carbon neutrality and environmental issues are respected
* Ensuring local communities engage in The Arc
* Think big and connect globally
In summary, without the appointment of an individual to lead and cajole the various interests across the region, there is a danger that The Arc could end up in the bin labelled, ‘Nice to have but too complicated’.
Assuming some form of resolution in Government strategy in the coming months, the property sector is ready and willing to react. The stakes are high but so are the rewards for all those trying to land The Oxford-Cambridge Arc.
© Thames Valley Property No 189 (tvproperty.co.uk)