Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Northampton growth corridor

In March 2016, the National Infrastructure Commission was asked to consider how to maximise the potential of the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor. Cambridge Econometrics, together with consultancy SQW, carried out an economic study to inform the Commission’s work, which resulted in the Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Northampton Growth Corridor Report 

The study presents the economic rationale for infrastructure investment in the corridor. Specifically, the study uses an economic framework to explain the key drivers of and constraints on growth and specialisations therein and investigates the nature of the inter-relationships between the four main urban centres that comprise the ‘corridor’.

The focus of the study is primarily, but not exclusively, on the knowledge-intensive sectors that make the study area worthy of special attention. This is because, the future development of the knowledge-based sector would inevitably have housing, transport and financial implications, which would influence the case for investment in the corridor.

Our analysis into the CaMkOx Arc concluded that:

  • The area does not function as a functional economic corridor due to poor cross-corridor transport connectivity
  • There are valuable knowledge-intensive assets within the corridor, but these tend to be strongly clustered around Cambridge and Oxford
  • Although areas of the corridor have experienced strong growth over the past 30 years, there are significant constraints that may hold back future success – most notably housing and congestion

Our recommendations were:

  • A transformational upgrade to both inter-city and intra-city transport, including:
    • The timely delivery of East-West Rail and an Oxford to Cambridge Expressway
    • New public transport networks in Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge
  • Sizeable and sustainable housing developments to be built at key infrastructure hubs along the corridor with a real “sense of place”.
  • A major initiative to drive forward collaborative research and innovation in Life Sciences, Digital and AI, and Advanced Manufacturing, and to fund several new research campuses, innovation hubs and incubator and accelerator programmes along the corridor

The National Infrastructure Commission’s final report Partnering for Prosperity.

Adam Brown Principal Economist [email protected]