Today’s headlines will be about The Chancellor’s plans to boost housing supply and improve productivity, but the speech also recognised the huge potential of the Golden Triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London to contribute significantly to the future growth of the UK economy.
Key announcements include:
- Backing for the National Infrastructure Commission’s vision to build 1 million homes in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor by 2050
- A new East West Rail Company will be set up to develop a rail link between Bedford and Cambridge
- A £1.1 billion fund to unlock strategic sites - including new settlements and urban regeneration schemes
- New Town Development Corporations to kick-start five new “locally agreed” Garden Towns in “areas of demand pressure”
- A “Housing Deal” with Oxfordshire to deliver 100,000 homes by 2031
- More than £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees to support the housing market
- Review into the gap between planning permissions and housing starts
- £1.7 billion for improving transport in English cities - half will be given to Combined Authorities with Mayors
- £5 million to help develop plans for Cambridge South Station
Patrick McMahon, Senior Partner of Bidwells, said:
It’s a joy to see the Golden Triangle so front and centre of the Budget speech today. The support for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor will unlock further growth in a region that is already one of our most productive and make a major contribution to solving the housing crisis.
This Budget speech might have been better delivered in Cambridge, Milton Keynes or Oxford - where so much of this high-tech revolution is happening – and where so many of these Budget measures are focussed.
Those living and working in the Golden Triangle have been seizing opportunities for decades but with this promise of further infrastructure investment in our region it will continue to lead the Chancellor’s technological revolution.
The Golden Triangle represents 44% of all real estate activity in the UK but with the National Infrastructure Commission’s measures implemented this could be a game-changing moment for the region and the UK.
The Golden Triangle is well on its way to becoming a new economic powerhouse for the UK, and now has the Government's backing to do so.
The Regional Impact of the 2017 Budget
The 2017 Budget has serious policy decisions for the Golden Triangle area between Oxford, Cambridge and London, with significant ramifications across housing, transport infrastructure and planning policy.
The details behind the policy announcements of Budget day can often take days and even weeks to become fully apparent but there are some key themes that the Chancellor was seeking to address in his speech to Parliament.
NIC Report on the Golden Triangle and the Varsity Expressway
The National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendations has already lobbied Number 11 on the opportunity to improve transport links between Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes in its report earlier in November. The NIC document sets out the potential for the region clearly: “The corridor connecting Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford could be the UK’s Silicon Valley.” It states that funding is required for not only transport, but significant additional housing supply and even new towns to support growth.
The timeline is some way out – 2030 for final delivery for the proposed “Varsity Expressway” – but the possibilities for business in the region are exciting. We will be monitoring this situation very closely for our clients, having already projected potential transport routes here, and will be conducting further, in depth studies into the economic and social impact of this landmark project.
Housing support for Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes
The delivery of more housing remains one of the more controversial elements of the Budget but it remains a central element of policy both now and in the foreseeable future. As one of the regions with the greatest need for more housing – we have set out the requirements for new homes in previous blogs here. Housing was identified by the NIC as a key constraint on the region’s growth and whether during the budget or in the weeks afterwards, we anticipate some level of housing initiative from Mr Hammond.
What next for business in the Golden Triangle?
For business in the region, particularly for those companies operating in the technology and life sciences’ sectors, the Chancellor has set out his support to expand investment and reward entrepreneurialism. Detail has been light, but whether it is now or in the week’s surrounding the announcement around any Brexit deal, it seems imperative for the Government to offer more support for business and particularly those sectors that have driven growth in recent years.