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      Connective Capital Spillovers

      Creating a seamless knowledge economy, Levelling Up the Arc and Making sustainable connectivity a regional priority

      19 Feb 2022 Rob Hopwood, Planning Partner, Bidwells
      Infrastructure can be a powerful force in helping to unlock the economic potential of regions, supporting jobs and helping to rebalance the economy.
      – UK Government National Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2016-2021

      Creating a seamless knowledge economy

      Transport infrastructure acts as the sinew of movement and communication within a regional economy. Any strategic long-term view of the Arc’s transport infrastructure has to recognise the importance of investment in this connective capital, and its potential to supercharge growth. Within the spatial dynamic of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, strategic and concentrated infrastructure spending and development has the potential not only to supercharge the economic growth of already prosperous areas, but also to ensure that regional growth is managed equitably to include the fast-growing economies central to the Arc.

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      New empirical research conclusively supports the view that hiring for government supported infrastructure projects creates a significant number of private sector jobs in the rest of the economy… our analysis shows an emerging consensus that for every $1 spent on transportation infrastructure, the increase in economic growth is between $1.5 and $2.
      – Progressive Policy Institute Infrastructure Investment and Economic Growth Report 2014

      Levelling Up the Arc

      Improved transport links would ensure that rural areas of the Arc can better access services, and through the provision of commutable transport links would open up new avenues to employment in urban centres. It can alleviate the high cost of living in the Arc’s cities by allowing residential development further afield, offering job opportunities and a chance for greater economic prosperity in deprived parts of the Arc. In Wisbech, East Cambridgeshire and Fenland, for too long considered the periphery of other more prosperous urban centres in the Arc, faster and more reliable transport links with Cambridge, Peterborough and other Arc towns and cities would not just allow for minor efficiencies for the private sector but rather make a drastic and tangible impact on local communities, achieving the Levelling Up agenda and ensuring no area of the Arc is left behind. 

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      It is important to ensure that everyone in the Arc, whether in towns, cities or rural areas, has the skills and opportunities to engage in our potential economic prosperity.
      – Arc Leadership Group Oxford-Cambridge Arc Economic Prospectus 2020

      Making sustainable connectivity a regional priority

      Historically the Arc has been the testing ground and the petri dish for thousands of inventions that have changed the way we live our lives. One of the trends of the last five years has been the growth of innovative micromobility solutions to the infrastructure challenges of dense urban centres. This is particularly true in an area with the architectural patrimony of the Arc, and those towns and cities designed largely around the medieval pedestrian such as Oxford and Cambridge rather than the needs of today. The success of micromobility trials including e-scooters and dockless bikes in Cambridge gives us an indication of how we can move forward with a more efficient, and crucially more environmentally sustainable, future for urban centres in the Arc.

      Not only will it be provide 50 jobs, the collaboration between private sector provider Voi Scooters and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority serves as an example of this innovation in personal transport. Likewise the Redways in Milton Keynes, shared-use routes for walking, cycling and scootering, have become the backbone of the city’s transport system – not only helping the local authority to meet sustainability goals by reducing single-person car use, but also taking advantage of the popular rediscovery of micromobility solutions during the coronavirus pandemic to improve individual wellbeing – from anyone from commuters to students to retirees. 

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