Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership's multi-million pound infrastructure programme
Histon Road cycle and walking scheme, Cambridge (Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership)
The UK Government has unlocked up to a further £400 million to the Greater Cambridge Partnership's programme, to create better transport infrastructure, support housing delivery and build skills for the future.
The decision follows a Government review of the GCP's progress since the initial £100 million investment in 2015.
The review - known as a 'Gateway review' hailed the 'significant success and progress' the Partnership has made on ambitious plans, ranging from city cycle ways to better public transport routes that will transform travel for thousands of people.
The GCP will use this once-in-a-generation funding to continue the delivery of a first-class transport system and support the acceleration of thousands of new homes and jobs as Greater Cambridge continues to grow post Covid-19. It is expected that these interventions will be needed more than ever to help the economy recover.
Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, Chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership said:
'The GCP is a great example of partnership working and I would like to thank our partners, members and officers for their hard work in reaching this big milestone. Over the last five years we have clearly demonstrated that we have laid the foundations for economic transformation - including developing detailed proposals for dedicated cycling and public transport routes that will form the first phase of the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.
'We've already delivered significant upgrades to cycling links and construction is now underway on the Chisholm Trail and Histon Road improvement schemes. We also launched the Greater Cambridge Apprenticeship service to help more people into work. But now with the government's support and as we move through the Covid-19 pandemic, we must crack on and deliver our transformative schemes that will unlock homes, jobs and secure long-term quality of life for people in Greater Cambridgeshire'.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council and a member of the Greater Cambridge Executive Partnership Board since 2015, said:
'The Government's confirmation that GCP will receive the next round of transport investment will be a major boost for economic recovery across Cambridge, including long term improvements to public transport and wider city travel and cycling. Working with partners, the GCP can now develop all four of its planned fast public transport routes over the next few years, help local companies rebuild and expand to create jobs, and bring forward badly needed investment in new affordable housing in and near the city, as well as lay strong foundations for the full CAM Metro scheme in the future.'
Cllr Roger Hickford, the Cambridgeshire County Council representative on the GCP Executive Board, commented:
'It is vital we re-start our economy both nationally and locally in an appropriate way as we slowly come to terms with the effect of the current pandemic and begin the recovery from it'.
In writing to confirm that GCP had passed the review, Simon Clarke MP, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, stated:
'We are pleased to see that GCP has made significant progress on its investments over the last five years and are grateful for your work on this'..the Gateway Review 'highlighted several significant successes across the deal to date' and he commended local partners for their focus on delivering projects in line with local priorities across GCP.
Among the progress made across a range of schemes since the £500 million deal was struck in 2015, are the construction on the Histon Road scheme improving walking and cycle ways for people to travel into the city from the A14, hundreds of additonal parking spaces added to the Trumpington Park & Ride with a planning application submitted shortly for a new travel hub for people who drive from the M11 into Cambridge and the partnership with Stagecoach to introduce the first fully electric buses into service in Greater Cambridge.
The GCP's future investment strategy includes delivering four CAM corridors subject to business cases and relevant approvals and funding towards enhancing the energy-grid capacity across Greater Cambridge, to prevent access to the grid obstructing growth.
Future Cities Forum discussed the challenges of infrastructure provision at our 'Science Cities' in Cambridge in November 2019. Cambridge City Council's Director of Planning and Economy, Stephen Kelly, said:
'We have the biggest City Deal in the UK - at £500 million - and this has to work in collaboration with county council, with the University, the elected mayor, and the sub-national transport boards and also the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. Our aim - as a city council - is to give communities confidence that there is a plan. Some Cambridge-based employers are growing at 100 new workers per month, which gives you some idea of the growth issues we face, with stretched housing and transport resources.
'What business wants is to know who to talk to and then to know that (decisions) will happen, but with each level of governance it gets more complex. Horizons for business planning are much shorter than for the public sector and for infrastructure. Planning and building a new railway station can take 10 to 12 years, for instance.
'How do you provide certainty for communities and business in a complex governance environment? We need to think about what our strategic strengths as a city are globally,
relative to places like Stanford in California and science and technology clusters in France and Germany as it's competitive world. The world changes faster than the pace of a local plan.
'The real issue on infrastructure is that we have a deregulated utilities sector which has different delivery plans compared to public infrastructure and also different to big national projects like HS2 In the Cambridge economy companies often grow at rates which are incompatible with local delivery time frames. China, with very different political governance, can build infrastructure at a radically different pace so how do we compete?
Dr Mike Snowden, Head of Discovery Sciences at Astra Zeneca commented at the November forum on the challenges the company faced moving from Cheshire to Cambridge:
'When you look at the rival centres where you can turn a protein into a drug Cambridge is a natural place to go. The reputation for blue sky science at Cambridge is second to none, with collaborative and networked communities and we were not surprised at what we found. What the pharma industry can do is turn those eureka moments into the drugs of the future. As we are mixing with academics and small bio-techs we can see the community building - and we are bringing on these small companies. We are as close to the colleges and the university departments as we could be. We are building a landmark building, one that sits well on the campus, and which is positioned to be part of the community.
'However, getting our people into work on the Cambridge Biomedical campus in the long term, and currently to Great Chesterford, Milton and Granta Park is a big issue. We have worked closely with the council on this, and succeeded in not putting people on Astra Zeneca buses but using public transport instead. You need to be part of the community. Although you are not always ready to do your best creative work if you have been stuck in a traffic jam on the A14 on the way to work!'