Leading regional law firm Howes Percival has launched a new, dedicated information hub for individuals and organisations impacted by or interested in the East-West Growth Corridor.
In November 2017, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published its final report on how to maximise the economic potential of the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor. The report outlined the opportunities to create new communities, including plans to deliver one million new homes and with them 1.1 million new jobs in the area by 2050. The vision also includes the completion of the new East-West Rail line connecting Oxford and Cambridge by 2030 and the construction of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway.
Howes Percival, which has offices in Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Northampton and Norwich, has set up the new website to act as a central hub for businesses and individuals interested in the Growth Corridor. The firm aims to collate a wide range of available resources and also comment on developments across the Corridor, as they happen.
In addition to the new site, there is also a dedicated Twitter feed, LinkedIn discussion group and an email sign-up option to ensure all interested parties can keep in touch with the latest East-West news:
“Year on year, Cambridge, Oxford and Milton Keynes top the league table rankings as the fastest growing cities in the UK. But Government believes they could do even better if there was the right infrastructure in place connecting the region. The proposal set out by the NIC for the East-West Corridor is a “once in a lifetime” bold and exciting vision and we think everyone impacted by it should be engaged and able to follow the developments and the debates. This new site aims to fill a gap in that provision and we hope it can become a really useful resource for everyone concerned.
“Implementing the NIC vision is not going to be without opposition. A Green Party councillor in Oxford has already called for the plans to be ditched for fear it will make hitting climate change targets harder to achieve. The NIC solution envisages the use of cutting edge design and high level engagement to produce housing and accommodation growth in ways that improves quality of life whilst respecting the environment and existing residents. To achieve this, they need high levels of engagement with the commercial sector, designers, planners and all businesses to tap in to the corridor ‘hive mind’ for ideas. The plans will affect landowners, employers, and all businesses located or operating in the area. Plus there are millions of people who want to know what the plans mean for them, their homes and their jobs.
“As the process begins to collect momentum we want to ensure the systems are in place to collate and collect all commentary, thought leadership and progress reports in an easy to find place.”
The All Parties Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge corridor held its launch event in Westminster on Wednesday 31 January where the growing enthusiasm and excitement was apparent. The Corridor champion and APPG chair Iain Stewart MP encouraged engagement from all ports in a collective effort to make the dream of the region becoming England’s Silicon Valley, a reality.
After the event, Iain Stewart MP commented:
“The launch event for the APPG for the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor was a great success. I was delighted by the number of attendees from across the corridor. As well as Parliamentary colleagues, we had a great range of representatives from businesses, local authorities, LEPs, universities and other organisations from across the corridor.
“There was a great buzz of excitement and a willingness to co-operate to realise the potential of the project. In my role as the Government’s official champion for the corridor, I shall now be setting up meetings with stakeholders over the next couple of months to allow me to map out their priorities for the Government.
“I have met with Sajid Javid and the Government sees enormous potential for this new ‘Silicon Valley’ to drive the nation’s economic growth.
“While there are many challenges, and to be successful we shall have to innovate new ways for Central Government departments and Local Authorities to co-operate. I strongly believe that the enthusiasm on display today bodes well for making this vision a reality.”
Lisa Mantle, Howes Percival’s corridor lead was at the APPG and commented,
“There is clearly a huge synergy for us in terms of location (Howes Percival offices straddle the length and breadth of the corridor) and our sector specialisms – which means it makes sense for us to be a facilitator in this way. Our clients own and run businesses that are key to the Corridor’s continued economic success and continued growth and we act for thousands of organisations whose commercial future will be closely interlinked with these plans.
“There is a large amount of information out there already but it is all in different places – local authorities, government and LEPs, project specific sites e.g. East-West Rail as well as the key agents and other professionals. The idea was to create an aggregator site for all things related to the Corridor - to bring all of the information together and make it more accessible for businesses and individuals affected or just interested in what is going on. The launch site is a starting point and we are excited to see how it grows in tandem with the Corridor.”
Howes Percival has specialist teams in a wide range of sectors impacted by the Corridor including Agriculture, Automotive, Development and Construction, Education, Energy, Food and Drink, Health, Leisure and Tourism, Manufacturing, Minerals and Waste, Public Sector, Retail, Science and Technology and Social Housing.
Lisa Mantle concluded;
“The NIC has acknowledged that this is an incredibly ambitious and groundbreaking proposal and that to make it work: there needs to be a shared vision which gets translated into statutory plans. There needs to be collaboration between Government and the local areas and local stakeholders need to be working in the national interest. This collaboration and engagement must have a notice board, a hub or space for discussion and Howes Percival are very happy to facilitate the conversation.”