Bidwelll has called for more infrastructure investment into the Oxford-Cambridge Arc – a stretch of land between Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes.
A report, ‘Oxford-Cambridge Arc Beyond the Covid-19 Crisis’ from Bidwells, said the Arc could represent 11% of the UK’s Gross Value Added by 2050, up from 6% today, due to its status as the hotbed of the knowledge-based economy.
However, the area is seeing rising lab and office rents, caused by a mismatch between supply and demand and a lack of infrastructure investment, which could price out businesses and talent.
Sue Foxley, research director at Bidwells said: “There is huge potential to be captured in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. But as our analysis shows, the core centres of Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes do not have the capacity to solely accommodate all future growth potential.
“Leveraged private investment will be essential for the growth of the region and its economy, but a strategic approach from government is needed to give investors the confidence to invest locally.
“Such an approach should drive the aspiration to capture, measure and track the economic and social contributions of innovation and invention that are so well illustrated by the Arc during the current global crisis.”
Up to 20 million sq ft of new lab and office space will be required in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc within the next two decades to keep pace with soaring demand, twice the volume of the previous 20 years.
Therefore, Bidwells is urging ministers to make the delivery of vital infrastructure improvements easier and quicker.
In 2018, the number of people working in the scientific & technical sector across the Arc rose by 6.1%. In Cambridge, home to giants such as Amazon and Microsoft, this figure rose to 27%, an addition of 8,000 new jobs.
In the past five years, rents in Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes have risen by 74%, 32% and 28% respectively.
Mike Derbyshire, head of planning at Bidwells, said: “The region is well positioned to capitalise on the government’s R&D agenda and should aspire to be an exemplar approach to innovation, infrastructure, social inclusiveness and natural capital.
“The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is the beating heart of UK innovation but a lack of development and investment threatens to price out new start-ups and reduce their ability to attract talent from the region’s world-leading higher education institutes.
“This, in addition to the glacial pace of policy making at national and local level, unfortunately puts the region’s long-term growth prospects in jeopardy.”
This post has originally been featured in Property Wire.