Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford. These three cities have been intertwined for some time and the vision to connect them has been labelled everything from a corridor; to an arc and even a triangle. Regardless of which shape or form you are familiar with – it’s difficult to escape the buzz forming around the concept.
National and local government have recognised the unique role these cities play in ‘brand UK’ and the need to invest, promote and enable their continued success by establishing five substantial new settlements. With that comes adequate infrastructure, housing, business growth and access to high tech employment opportunities. That vision is clearly laid out in the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) report of November 2017, but still, delivering this vision in the current Brexit focused environment is anything but straight forward and rapid.
So, while the strategic master plan is crafted, there is time for you to give some thought to some key opportunities for Cambridge and the surrounding area. How should anyone with an interest in development, property, or business be planning for this shiny new future.
It’s not only landowners in Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes that will have their interest piqued – those in Bedford and Peterborough should also have their eye on the prize. Talks of a combination of new transport links from roads, rail links, trams or even an underground could be required to reduce the impact on the cities themselves. If you’re a landowner within the Oxford – Cambridge corridor, you should be seeking some advice on the strategic worth of your land now.
Towns and villages on both sides of the M11, A14, A1 are all under the scrutiny of surveyors, developers and promoters, looking at land with potential residential development, and identifying would-be hotel and service station sites. Land earmarked as business parks is attracting a premium as demand continues to outstrip supply. Along the arterial roads, land for “large sheds” for distribution and logistics centres are being identified and are already changing hands.
But it’s not just the day of the developer! Business managers and owners might be wondering how they can make the most of this growing opportunity in the region. Our prediction is this will be a growing hub for start-ups and SME’s. The newest trend to hit the London property sector is co-working and flexible spaces for companies of all shapes and sizes. Could this be the vision for the new corridor – a series of flexible spaces, filled with entrepreneurial genius, built to house the next generations desire for ‘community’ ‘wellness’ and ‘flexibility’? Could your business benefit from that?
The concept also makes provision for one million new homes to be constructed along the route, which could be constructed by 2050. Environmental considerations will be a key factor. The construction industry already feels a growing pressure to embed the environmental factor into their developments, but home buyers themselves also now want ‘eco-friendly’ ‘plastic free’ living options. These new towns could lead the way in the future vision for new largescale developments (although the impact on more traditional products needs to be considered too). And that is even before the new kid on the block of modular housing has made its entrance. Where there is change afoot, there is usually a business opportunity!
Finally, all business owners and education providers must not overlook this opportunity for education and business to join forces at new levels. With both Oxford and Cambridge University producing the most sought-after graduates in Britain, the £7billion cost of the expressway could be a wise investment in securing growth in the UK’s ‘brain belt’ and therefore we would all be wise to begin thinking about the future now!
The Commercial Property team at Greenwoods GRM is based across Peterborough, Cambridge and London. We are following the plans for this development closely, to ensure we can offer the most up to date advice on land strategies, the buying, selling and leasing of property in the area. Do feel free to contact us for any local expert advice on how Cambridge is ‘shaping up’ for the future.
This article also appeared on our Property blog in Business Weekly.