New towns, transport links proposed for UK ‘brain-belt’

Significant new infrastructure plans are to be proposed by the UK’s infrastructure commission aimed at creating significant numbers of homes and jobs, by improving links through the ‘brain-belt’.

UK 'brain belt' proposed rail links
A plan for a £7 billion ‘brain-belt expressway’ across a swath of central England is being proposed by the government-backed National Infrastructure Commission.The transport links plan, which commission chairman Lord Adonis is urging Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to adopt in next week’s Budget, would link Oxford, Cambridge, Bedford and Milton Keynes and could lead to the creation of the UK’s first new towns in a half-century.

Transport links could lead to new homes and jobs

A report published by the commission said the plan could deliver one million new homes and jobs in the area by 2050.It proposes devolving Whitehall powers to local authorities and government funding for ‘brain-belt’ transport links that would include completing a new east-west rail link from Oxford to Cambridge via Bedford by 2030; an Oxford-Cambridge expressway road link; and new stations in Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire.The commission says several new towns could be created between Oxford and Milton Keynes, and Bedford and Cambridge, “from smaller scale garden towns of around 10,000 homes, through to new city-scale developments of up to 150,000 homes”.
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Boosting infrastructure for Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford

Lord Adonis, said, “The arc spanning Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford attracts the brightest and best from some of the most cutting edge industries.“But the area also suffers from a lack of available homes and an infrastructure network that is feeling the strain – pricing local people out of the market, making it difficult for businesses to recruit staff, and threatening the future competitiveness of one of the most successful parts of the country.“A ground-breaking deal between ministers and local leaders could transform the area, helping to double the rate of house-building and deliver the first new towns this country has seen for half a century. With this one of the most economically important parts of the UK, it could add billions of pounds a year to the national economy.“I urge local leaders to seize this opportunity and work together with government, both for the benefit of their residents and of the country as a whole – all by delivering a million new homes and jobs by 2050, investing in improved road and rail links and protecting the area’s natural environment.“There’s a deal on offer here, which is that government puts in serious investment to transform rail and road links, in return for which the local authorities agree to double the rate of house building, and build new towns in suitable and environmentally sustainable locations.“I am hopeful that we will get good news in the Budget.”In a statement, the Oxfordshire Growth Board welcomed the report’s recommendations and said it was now looking forward to the government’s response.“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 the homes and jobs that the area needs,” the board said.“The NIC’s proposals seek to bring forward investment to harness the region’s economic potential, to benefit local people and boost UK plc in a post-Brexit landscape.”

Budget recommendations could yip balance for new economic powerhouse

Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said, “This major investment in rail is both welcome and overdue, and we ask the Chancellor to support all the key NIC recommendations in his Budget, to deliver the vital new Cambridge South station by 2022 latest and the full east-west rail route from Cambridge to Milton Keynes and Oxford by 2030, as a major boost to making our growth sustainable and shifting transport from road to rail.”Bob Price, leader of Oxford city council, said, “This region is already growing strongly and 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.”For related news and features, visit our Enterprise section.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  

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