A ground-breaking new deal between Whitehall and local leaders in one of the most economically-important parts of the country could add hundreds of billions of pounds to the national economy each year and lead to the first new towns in the UK for half a century, Lord Adonis said today.
The chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission urged ministers and council leaders across the arc covering Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Northampton and Cambridge, to “seize the opportunity” and harness the area’s economic potential.
To do this, he encouraged them to work together to deliver new and improved infrastructure, helping to unlock opportunities to deliver one million new homes and jobs by 2050, including the country’s first new towns in 50 years – tackling the area’s housing shortage, improving local transport connections and creating new jobs.
He highlighted that these measures can be taken while at the same time protecting and enhancing the natural environment of the area, and without making changes to existing Green Belt protections.
Currently the area generates £90billion per year towards the national economy. But by taking these steps this could increase to over £250billion a year – an increase of over £160billion a year.
“The arc spanning Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford attracts the brightest and best from some of the most cutting edge industries,” said Lord Adonis.
“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 housebuilding 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.”
Leader of Milton Keynes Council, Councillor Pete Marland said: “We welcome the National Infrastructure Commission’s view that Milton Keynes should once again become a project of national significance. We also strongly support the recommendation that to enable growth, local authorities require certainty on the timing and funding for infrastructure delivery.
“The Commission’s report matches our ambitions for the next stage of Milton Keynes expansion, as outlined by the MK Futures 2050 Commission, of inclusive growth, better access to affordable housing, a new technological university and the creation of thousands more highly skilled jobs.
“Milton Keynes now looks forward to working with Government and our neighbours on how we can meet the challenges of delivering significant extra growth across the corridor. The Commission’s report is a strong starting point for an open dialogue on how we can best achieve the requirement for growth while meeting the aspirations of local people.”
Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart said: I’m very excited with the recommendations put forward in the NIC report. There is a huge amount of untapped growth in the region and it is vital for Milton Keynes that we play a leading role in developing the infrastructure needed. I will be doing all I can to champion this vision.”
Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster TD MP said: “The NIC report highlights the true potential for the Oxford-MK-Cambridge arch. With planned growth across the region and better connectivity there is no doubt we could be the new Silicon Valley. I’m excited and will do all I can to support local leaders to achieve the support they need from Government.”