At the end of last month (30 October), I, like many of my property professional peers in the Cambridge, came together to, quite frankly, talk a load of CAMKOX at the city’s Guildhall. I can, with confidence, guarantee that it won’t be the last time CAMKOX will be talked in that chamber – CAMKOX being the acronymn for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford development arc.
The opportunity to talk CAMKOX was facilitated by Estates Gazette whose annual Question Time event rolled in to Cambridge once again. The day before had seen the Budget statement, and those present in the Guildhall chamber seemed to welcome the central government’s backing of the development initiative that had been reinforced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the previous afternoon.
The development of the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford arc is a cornerstone of the government’s development policy for this part of the country and that is a given among property folk of Cambridge. However, opinions do vary here as to which stopping point in the arc - and that’s not forgetting Bedford either - is set to gain the most from the attention.
Cambridge already figures in another growth initiative: the London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor. So the city looks south and to the west in terms of development arcs and corridors. And it’s also a city which attracts the attention of an international audience of investors too.
But we cannot ignore the north or the east of the county of Cambridgeshire. This is something Mayor James Palmer, leader of the Cambridgeshire and Peteborough Combined Authority and a panel member at the event, would surely support in affirming his remit to serve an electorate well beyond the narrow historical boundaries of Cambridge city.
Mayor Palmer also affirmed his commitment to pushing through the Cambridge Metro scheme, deploying the extensive localised powers which sit within the mayoral office.
Far from being an aside to the CAMCOX discussion in the room, the Metro project is part of the plan for better connectivity which includes the Cambridge to Oxford, via Bedford, railway line. Both are key to the infrastructure plans in play here, presently.
There was consensus among panel members that collaboration between all four LEPs (Local Economic Partnerships), business, central government and all commercial and privately interested parties in the CAMKOX area would be key. On this, there were no dissenting voices in the audience. However and, as ever, how to achieve this is the rub of the matter.
The prevailing feeling from the panel and in the chamber was that talking CAMKOX must not become an end in itself. Delivery needs to happen and infrastructure needs to break ground soon.
In 2018, Barker Storey Matthews was identified as the most active regional property agency in the East of England for the fifth year running and the most active agent in Cambridgeshire for the seventh consecutive year by Estates Gazette.
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