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      Our reaction to today's Autumn Statement

      Partners from Cambridge and Oxford have provided Bidwells’ reaction to today’s (Nov 22) Autumn Statement, looking at whether the Chancellor has gone far enough in support of two of the UK’s most important city economies.

      22 Nov 2023


      Rob Hopwood, Partner, Planning, Bidwells (Cambridge), said:

      “While it’s welcome to see the Chancellor double down on the Government’s ‘science superpower’ ambitions in today’s Autumn Statement, achieving such status will be impossible without more purpose-built laboratory space."

      “Cambridge – a region where UK life sciences has a critical mass and where pharma giants like AstraZeneca call home – needs a step change in the delivery of offices and laboratory space. But make no mistake, this isn’t a potential problem – it is here and now. In fact, research from Bidwells has revealed that there is currently 1.2 million square feet of demand for life sciences facilities in Cambridge; just 7,000 square feet is available. This means the unicorns of tomorrow are being locked out of the market.

      “Therefore, policies that are designed to make it easier for start-ups and scale-ups to attract inward investment – such as reforms to the pension sector – must combine with those that make it easier for investors to build the types of space that allow the £90 billion-a-year UK life sciences sector to become better at commercialising the ground-breaking research that is spun out of our world-leading universities every year.

      “Because the East of England is one of the UK’s driest regions, there also must be a concerted effort among ministers to create a policy environment that speeds up the delivery of mission-critical utilities, such as a new water reservoir. By devising a long-term strategy, policymakers can provide investors with the confidence to share risk and invest. Cambridge is suffering from an acute water-scarcity issue, and without a solution, our country’s growth ambitions will quickly grind to a halt.”  


      Chris Pattison, deputy head of Planning, Bidwells (Oxford) said:

      “Policymakers must free up our fastest growing towns and cities, like Oxford and Cambridge. That means reviewing the purpose of the Green Belt, as recently called for by Natural England’s chair, and championing opportunity areas for life sciences and technological advancement. We all agree that growth should be “green and good”, but this phrase is being used too readily and too frequently by too many authorities to actually prevent the growth we need.

      “The discourse around the housing crisis often gets tied up in technical discussions around delivery and policy, but this is a crisis that impacts people, particularly young people starting their lives and careers, so we welcome the language the Chancellor has used today around supporting opportunity. But to offer young people opportunities, we must offer them the security of a home and that means thinking creatively and for the longer term.”

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