The Chancellor’s budget speech addressed economic challenges facing the UK: How to boost productivity, improve infrastructure and build new homes, says Bidwells partner David Williams.
Its emphasis on exploiting the potential of growth sectors and high performing hubs puts the Golden Triangle (London-Oxford-Cambridge) at the heart of the nation’s economic revival.
Key Budget announcements to affect the region included backing to build one million homes in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor by 2050 and money has been earmarked to assist in the development of rail links in that corridor.
Developers looking to meet demand for residential and employment space across the region will welcome news that £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees will be available to support the housing market, whilst the Chancellor announced a £1.1 billion fund to unlock strategic sites.
Providing the right accommodation for growing businesses is one of our greatest challenges. According to Bidwells latest research into Oxfordshire’s office market, the first half of the year saw business space requirements rise by 74%. Take up hit a record high of 225,000 sq ft, 72.6% of which was from knowledge-based businesses.
That demand will only intensify. The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy report describes the Golden Triangle as the world’s third largest technology cluster, after Silicon Valley and Boston, and life sciences alongside other connected sectors at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy are set to attract significant investment.
The property industry has already responded to demand from these sectors. Bidwells alone is advising on over 2 million sq ft of new development under construction or with planning consent on science and technology parks along the A34 corridor in Oxfordshire. For example, Oxford Technology Park which is capable of creating 4,000 jobs within 440,000 sq ft has submitted a full planning application for a new 101-bed Premier Inn hotel and 150-cover restaurant. The high-profile Bicester Gateway Business Park fronting the A41 dual carriageway, is due to start on site in early 2018.
The challenge now is exploiting the opportunities and ensuring our region provides the infrastructure and business space required to support a prosperous economy.