This report sets out the interim findings of the LSCC Growth Commission – which has been established to provided independent analysis and advice to raise the global economic potential of the London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor. The Corridor stretches from London, north through Hertfordshire and Essex, into Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
These interim findings indicate that the economy along the Corridor has grown phenomenally over the past twenty years, and that significant growth is set to continue.
The headline findings
- The Corridor is an international asset with rapid rates of growth
- It is a leading tech and knowledge economy
- It includes the Global City of London and the World-class Cambridge Cluster
- It contains Europe’s leading life sciences industrial cluster and contains the firms and ideas that are driving the future of the UK’s ICT & Digital industries
- The corridor competes globally for investment, and needs the quality of place and infrastructure to attract talent, investment and entrepreneurs
Emerging issues from the Growth Commission
The Growth Commission has identified several emerging themes that will be refined and developed over the next few months. Further views and suggestions are welcome.
Theme 1: an excellent environment for knowledge-based industries
Quality of place is a key competitive strength and many of the Corridor’s global competitors are further advanced in their ‘smart growth’ strategies and have better offers in terms of business locations, transport, housing, digital connectivity, cultural vibrancy, skills supply, and quality of life. This needs to be a major priority for the Corridor, complementing the excellent support it offers in nurturing knowledge-based and tech industries.
Theme 2: improving productivity
Significant productivity gains are required to maintain economic prosperity where there are constraints to labour supply, housing, infrastructure, and land. Although the Corridor is already a leading region in terms of productivity (16 per cent higher than the UK average), a strategy which supports and builds the factors required for high productivity (such as capital investment, infrastructure enhancement, technology, skills, R&D, entrepreneurship and new products and services) is essential.
Theme 3: better collaboration
The Corridor could improve joint working and collaboration on major supply and demand issues such as infrastructure, skills and housing. Addressing the critical infrastructure and policy challenges such as roads (M11 Junctions 7, 7a, 8 and 9), rail (West Anglia Main Line improvements, Crossrail 2, a new station at Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and junction improvements), broadband access, housing (increasing the rate of housebuilding and access to affordable housing), and education and skills would substantially improve productivity performance as well as widen labour market catchment areas. Maintaining public and private R&D investment and capacity is also a priority. The West Anglia Task Force is a good example of effective collaboration – and the Growth Commission supports its work.
Theme 4: strategies that build on local strengths
We can use our knowledge of future industry and workforce requirements to inform and shape the future growth and transformation of the Corridor’s towns and locations. Harlow and Stevenage have aspirations for significant growth. The Upper Lee Valley Opportunity Area in North London is London’s largest Opportunity Area, capable of supporting over 15,000 new jobs and at least 20,000 new homes. As different places in the Corridor have different strengths, successful nodes and cities need to complement each other as business locations.
Theme 5: enhanced governance
New devolved local powers will help to deliver a collaborative ‘smart growth’ agenda and action plan for the Corridor. The Growth Commission supports increased local powers and collaboration between devolved authorities, as these present a major opportunity to deliver more effective strategic solutions at the Corridor level. The Growth Commission wishes to see an acceleration in the development and delivery of new financial tools for local agencies to support future prosperity and growth.
Theme 6: improved airport links
London Stansted Airport provides a major international gateway strategically located in the middle of the corridor, serving 22 million passenger movements in 2015 and servicing over 160 international destinations. The growth of international gateways and airports is essential to the future success of the Corridor’s globally-linked industries, including unmet demand for transatlantic flights. Expansion presents an opportunity to attract investment and employment in ancillary and associated activities.
Theme 7: global significance
The Corridor competes globally for investment and talent. It is vital to take into account the international dimension – that if an international business decided, for instance, not to locate in Cambridge it would not necessarily go elsewhere in the UK.
The LSCC Growth Commission will continue to run until June 2016, providing further evidence and staging two further Inquiry Events on 5 April and 12 May.
We welcome feedback on this Interim Report as well as the submission of further evidence and views.