Cambridge is set to become the UK's Silicon Valley with ambitious government plans. The UK government is making significant strides toward transforming Cambridge into the country's very own Silicon Valley with a series of bold and ambitious plans.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove recently announced the launch of the £24 million Planning Skills Delivery Fund, aimed at removing bottlenecks in the planning system and ensuring the right skills are in place for seamless development. As part of this initiative, a new "super-squad" team of leading planners and experts will work to expedite major housing developments across the city.
Dubbed "Cambridge 2040," the grand vision involves the construction of an astounding 250,000 new homes in the area, along with the implementation of new rail lines, a potential tram or bus network, and other crucial infrastructure projects. It's important to note that this proposed number is in addition to the existing housing plans devised by Cambridge City Council and the South Cambridgeshire district council.
Gove's office explained that the focus would be on building in inner-city areas with high demand and limited growth opportunities, steering away from encroaching on rural landscapes. A key element of this plan is to create a new urban quarter in Cambridge, unlocking the city's full potential as a hub of innovation and talent. The new quarter will feature state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge laboratories, and ample green spaces.
The announcement has received widespread approval from major companies already associated with Cambridge. For instance, Sir Mene Pangalos of AstraZeneca expressed enthusiasm, emphasizing how this investment could bolster Cambridge's status as a global center for life sciences and healthcare while enhancing its infrastructure and contributing to local and national growth.
AVEVA's CEO, Caspar Herzberg, also welcomed the government's commitment, citing Cambridge's significance as a research and development center for their global software business. The company intends to continue investing in Cambridge as an innovation hub for industrial software, leveraging AI to drive productivity and sustainability worldwide.
The UK Bioindustry Association's CEO, Steve Bates, echoed the sentiment, recognizing the need for swift decisions on new labs and homes to facilitate the growth of the UK's life science sector. He sees the Cambridge 2040 plans as a much-needed boost for companies competing for global investment.
Apart from residential development, "Cambridge 2040" also aims to designate extensive areas for business parks, laboratories, and science hubs. Sustainable public transport proposals are also in the works, contributing to the overall vision.
If fully executed, the plan could effectively triple the size of the city, bringing its population, currently at 145,000, in line with that of major cities like Bristol or Manchester. With Cambridge's average house price exceeding nine times the average salary, the urgency to address housing market supply and demand imbalances and provide more affordable homes for key workers is long overdue.
Property consultancy Carter Jonas has thrown its support behind the proposal. Colin Brown, the firm's planning and development chief, who has played a significant role in the city's recent growth, acknowledges the region's potential to achieve the ambitious goals. However, he highlights the need for a strategic approach, considering existing constraints such as strained road infrastructure, major public transport requirements, and water availability. Coordination between the public and private sectors, as well as collaboration with Central Government, will be crucial to realizing this vision.
With the government's unwavering commitment and the backing of influential businesses, Cambridge's transformation into the UK's Silicon Valley is on the horizon. If successful, this venture will undoubtedly shape the future of technology, innovation, and economic growth in the region for years to come.