Milton Keynes could be the next Silicon Valley, say government

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Milton Keynes has the chance to be at the heart of ‘Britain’s Silicon Valley’, a government commission has declared.

A report into the Cambridge - Milton Keynes - Oxford corridor was published by the National infrastructure Commission this week.

It considers ways of maximising the corridor’s potential as a “single, knowledge-intensive cluster’ that could achieve global fame.

But the hard-hitting report warns that turning the dream into a reality requires huge investment in housing and transport.

It recommends the government should go ahead with the first phase of the East West Rail link to halve journey times between Oxford and Bedford via Bletchley.

This should be completed before 2024, while plans for the next phase of the link plus a new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway should be developed “as soon as possible”.

New housing in the corridor should also be given priority.

“Plans for these major new transport links should be drawn up with the specific intention of securing the tens of thousands of new homes this area needs,” stated the report.

It described the lack of sufficient and suitable housing as a “fundamental risk” to the success of the area.

“Without a joined-up plan for housing, jobs and infrastructure across the corridor, it will be left behind by its international competitors,” it stated.

Sir John Armitt, deputy chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said the Cambridge, MK and Oxford corridor could become a global showpiece for science, technology and innovation.

But its future success is not guaranteed, he said.

“Transport links across the corridor are often slow, unreliable and congested, and the area is home to two of the last affordable cities in the UK. These twin problems are already increasing costs for businesses and diminishing their ability to attract employees.”

Sir John added: “This area can become greater than the sum of its parts with better strategic planning which radically improves its transport connectivity whilst securing the tens of thousands of new homes it so desperately needs.”

He said the rail link and Expressway could be the “catalyst” to bring the region together.