Cambridge Econometrics to assess potential economic benefits of the Oxbridge Expressway
As part of a larger consortium led by Jacobs, Cambridge Econometrics (CE) are leading the assessment of the potential wider economic benefits that would result from the completed Oxbridge Expressway.
The study for Highways England will assess the extent to which the new infrastructure would help realise the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) vision of combining the three cities: Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford into a single world-leading “silicon corridor”.
By 2050 the corridor could house one million new homes and provide 700,000 new jobs – of which approximately half are expected to be in high-value knowledge-intensive sectors.
In November 2016, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published their interim report (see pdf below) into the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford Corridor, built on analysis undertaken by CE and SQW. The Commission outlined their vision for the corridor:
‘To succeed in the global economy, Britain must build on its strengths. The corridor connecting Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford could be the UK’s Silicon Valley – a world renowned centre for science, technology and innovation. But its future success is not guaranteed. The Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor faces a chronic undersupply of homes made worse by poor east-west transport connectivity.’
This, then, provides the rationale for the Oxbridge Expressway:
‘Planning for East West Rail and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway should be taken forward urgently. These are once-in-a-generation investments that will deliver substantial national benefits and, if designed properly, can provide the foundations for the corridor’s long-term prosperity: unlocking housing sites, improving land supply, and supporting well-connected and sensitively designed new communities, whilst bringing productive towns and cities closer together.’
Adam Brown, Project Manager at Cambridge Econometrics, said:
“We are pleased to work alongside Jacobs to deliver the economic assessment element of this major study, which will provide decision makers with clarity in terms of which route option best improves East-West connectivity and maximises economic potential through new employment and housing.”
One of the NIC’s central findings was that a lack of sufficient and suitable housing presents a fundamental risk to the success of the corridor, and without a joined-up approach to delivering housing, jobs and infrastructure the economic benefits and growth potential of the corridor will not be achieved.
The principal aim of this project is to examine a range of options which will link Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge via an expressway. The objectives of the scheme have been developed to address two key issues in particular:
- Connectivity – provide an east-west strategic transport package of measures that delivers enhanced connectivity through faster, safer and more reliable connections across the corridor in the broad arc from Oxford to Cambridge via Milton Keynes, and reduces pressure on existing routes.
- Economic Growth – build on the ambition to unlock the economic potential in the corridor by facilitating strategic growth to the benefit of the UK economy through the development of new employment and housing sites along the route.
The Eastern section of the route is already clearly defined – the A421 and A428 between Milton Keynes are Cambridge are scheduled for enhancement to Expressway Standard. The route of the Western section between Milton Keynes and Oxford is still under consideration – an announcement as to a preferred corridor will be announced in July 2018 informed by the early work of this study.
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