Cambridge Growth – Project detail

Our Growth Project work is concentrated into three steams, namely:

Data: Developing compelling, repeatable and reportable data about the growth in Cambridge and the wider region.
Qualitative Research: Complementary company research exploring the different aspects of managing high growth.
Spatial Modelling: Undertaking spatial land use modelling and developing transport forecast scenarios to influence planning policies.

Cambridge Growth – Project detail

Progress to date…

Our data work stream provides clear data of the ongoing high growth of the sub-region. We have engaged – and shared the results to date – with the Greater Cambridge Councils (Cambridge City and South Cambs), who recognise that our data is robust and should influence their modelling.

The gap between the data produced by Cambridge Ahead and the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) regional growth data, which for some time had been reporting slower growth, has now started to close, with upward trends in their more recent data. Agreement with ONS about the current rates of growth is essential to create a forward view of the sub region’s infrastructure requirements.

Our qualitative research invited 100 companies in the sub-region to respond. Results revealed the difficulties companies are experiencing in finding trained staff and attracting them to Cambridge because of the lack of affordable housing. These local constraints to growth are starting to impact productivity and, if eased, would have a measurable impact on future growth. Member organisations PwC and RAND Europe are working with us on future updates in this area.

Our Spatial Modelling is a major focus for our work. The models (owned and run by the Department of Architecture in the University of Cambridge) performed well in validation tests. Our work involves building seven scenarios of how the sub-region might grow over the next 35 years. One scenario will be a forecast of how things might develop if we continue as we are, but implement the current clutch of GCP (City Deal) proposals; another will be based on the implementation of a more ambitious mass transit strategy with development along key transport routes as part of an “extensification” strategy. These scenarios are being developed with the Cambridge Ahead Project Groups. The Greater Cambridge Councils and GCP are closely interested in this scenario work as a potential way to model their mass transit work. This work continues to the end of 2017, before emerging for public consultation in Spring 2018.

Into the future…

The conclusion of the Cambridge sub-region Growth Project, will provide clearly defined growth scenarios and a well-supported investment case to central government to achieve these.

It is probable that a standing Independent Economic Commission for Cambridgeshire will be created to continue to monitor and advise the Combined Authority, Councils and other interested parties on the future development of the county’s economy, of which the Cambridge sub-region will likely remain the largest and most rapidly growing.

Cambridge Ahead will continue to support this activity for the Cambridge sub-region, probably alongside the Combined Authority, the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and GCP, to ensure that our goal of creating a sustainable, long term growth plan for Cambridge can be achieved.