Broadening the Cambridge cachet essential to cluster’s growth
A report which was commissioned by the Greater Cambridge Partnership and released in early January evaluated a range of proposals to improve connectivity and development throughout a significant swathe of the northern area of the county, writes Philip Woolner, joint managing partner at Cheffins.
The proposals encompass dualling to both, or either, the northern and southern stretches of the A10 between Cambridge and Ely; a new Park & Ride north of Waterbeach; the relocation and expansion of Waterbeach Railway Station and new and improved cycling and pedestrian provision between Waterbeach and Cambridge’s northern fringe – all with a view to providing a ‘multi-modal’ transport solution for the A10 corridor.
The report looks at five options in total and is reported to have the backing of both central government and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s mayor, James Palmer.
Palmer himself supports the full option and I agree with this wholeheartedly, not just because of the necessity of the upgrade in order to facilitate major development in Waterbeach and Cambridge’s northern fringe but also because of the benefits it will bring to the rest of the Cambridgeshire.
If we really want to grow the economy of the county and region, increase job opportunities and provide housing at affordable prices, whilst at the same time taking some of the pressure for development off Cambridge city and South Cambs the northern part of Cambridgeshire needs to be opened up and made accessible.
These transport improvements could go some way to help the development of towns and villages in East Cambs and Fenland as they become a more attractive option for commuters into Cambridge.
Similarly, in time, greater accessibility should also stimulate business activity and a generate a wider range of employment opportunities in surrounding areas.
Too many large corporations see a Cambridge address as essential when moving to the region and this needs to be addressed if we are going to try and close the economic gap between the northern and southern parts of the county.
Only with this kind of major infrastructure improvement will the region fulfil its potential as a true global competitor to the likes of Silicon Valley, Boston, Shenzhen and Shanghai.
Without space for expansion, Cambridge faces a very real prospect of growth being stopped in its tracks as businesses are unable to find suitable premises, or affordable and accessible housing for their staff.
Our Mayor appears to have a similar vision and at this time of uncertainty over Britain’s future and its place in the world, there appears to be a real recognition that investment in the Cambridge brand is vitally important to maintaining and enhancing the UK’s credentials as a world-leading technology and research location.