Oxfordshire Growth Board, made up of Cherwell, South and West Oxfordshire District Councils, Oxford City and County Councils, Vale of White Horse District Council and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, have welcomed the publication of the National Infrastructure Commission’s final report on the Oxford–Cambridge Arc.
The report makes a series of recommendations to Government on how to maximise the economic potential of the 130-mile corridor that links the two cities over the next thirty years.
The Board will now study the report in detail and looks forward to the Government’s response to its findings.
The project aims to grow the knowledge-based economy across the arc so that it competes on a global stage with areas such as Silicon Valley in the US, while protecting the area’s high-quality environment, and securing homes and jobs.
The area is home to four of the UK’s fastest growing towns and cities, as well as centres of global research expertise and advanced manufacturing. Oxfordshire is home to Harwell and Culham science parks, Oxford’s universities, medical research centres and automotive and motorsport clusters.
The NIC’s proposals include significant investment funding for new transport infrastructure, including an East-West Rail connecting Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes, as well as more localised projects – such as the opening of a Cowley Branch Line by end 2019, and improved cycle routes across the county.
Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “The Oxford-Cambridge ‘brain belt’ offers an opportunity to create a fourth economic powerhouse for the UK to rival those in London, the Midlands and the North.”
“There are some eye-catching numbers in the NIC report that looks right out to 2050. Oxfordshire must ensure that development is properly planned, sustainable and works in the interests of existing and well as future residents.”
Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “PwC’s recent ‘Good Growth for Cities’ report announced Oxford as being one of the two highest-performing cities – in relation to growth – anywhere in the UK. This follows last month’s announcement from Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research who said Oxford had the second fastest-growing economy of any UK city.
“Oxfordshire continues to reaffirm a position of having a world-leading economy and this report further identifies the global opportunities and strengths our region has to offer.”