Edge Debate 87: The Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge Growth Corridor

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018 | Debates

nic area diagram

Can we plan for sustainable growth and make places that work for people?

In autumn 2017, the National Infrastructure Commission published its report on the potential of the Oxford – Cambridge Growth Corridor, It noted that:

“...the Corridor has been identified by Government as a key strategic priority for growth, development and investment… the present population of 3.3 million is expected to increase by 25% to nearly 5 million between 2016-2050 with the provision of an additional 700,000 jobs and requiring 1 million new homes.

But concluded, that although:

the corridor connecting Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford could be the UK’s Silicon Valley – a world renowned centre for science, technology and innovation … [it] faces a chronic undersupply of homes made worse by poor east-west transport connectivity. Two of the least affordable cities in the UK lie within the corridor and the area, as a whole, has consistently failed to build the number of homes it needs. That shortage puts sustained growth at risk. It is already increasing costs for businesses and diminishing their ability to attract employees at all levels.

In the Autumn Budget (2017) the Chancellor reinforced support for the NIC’s proposals for this “dynamic new growth corridor for the 21st Century” but has not allocated any significant resource to ensuring that well planned communities are developed along its route.

The plans are ambitious, but there are still many questions to be answered, including:

  • How will self-sustaining communities be created and supported in the corridor and commuting-based housing estates avoided?
  • What will be the social impacts on existing communities of significantly increasing the population in the area and how can they be mitigated?
  • What would be a truly sustainable and practical approach to transport?
  • What extended outcomes can be achieved from the significant investment in infrastructure that will be necessary?
  • Will the planning infrastructure, both regional and local, be provided with sufficient resources to pro-actively manage strategic growth?
  • Have critical resource issues, such as water supply and management, been planned for?


Expert speakers from academia, policy and practice will set the scene for open-ended round table workshops that touch on wider policy matters and point the way forward.

Chair: Ann Limb, CBE DL, Chair SE Midlands LEP


Peter Tyler,
 Professor in urban and regional economics in the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge

Patsy Dell, Assistant Director Strategic Planning, Infrastructure and the Economy, Hertfordshire County Council and former Head of Planning at both Cambridge and Oxford City Councils

Christian Wolmar, writer and broadcaster and leading commentator on 
transport, author of Are Trams Socialist? Why Britain Has No Transport Policy

Jenny Raggett, Transport Campaigner, Transport for New Homes funded by 
the Foundation for Integrated Transport

Gemma Burgess, Acting Director, Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR)

Tom Holbrook, Architect, Director, 5th Studio, lead author of NIC Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford – Future Planning Options Project Final Report

Rebecca Tunstall, Professor Emerita of Housing Policy, University of York

Charles Crawford, Board Director, LDA Design


Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge

Organised in collaboration by Lucy Cavendish College and the Edge



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