'Science Cities II' discussion findings part 2

CGI of proposed innovation hub main building at the employment-led Oxford North development (Fletcher Priest for Thomas White Oxford / St. John's College Oxford)

Our Science Cities II debate, joined by leaders from hospital trusts, universities, development and the construction industry - and opened by the Infrastructure & Projects Authority saw Head of the Commercial Adviser Team Stephen Dance - asked how the procurement of government projects for road, rail and fibre could be speeded up and whether the Oxford Cambridge knowledge Arc would benefit from its own development corporation or dedicated planning authority?

Stephen responded:

'On procurement there is reform in the pipe line and also for the construction 'playbook'. In a non- EU environment there are opportunities to do things differently and to achieve more simplicity and clarity and allow the UK more say in how it selects contractors. This won't mean competition is thrown out of the door. However, I do not think the laws have been the problem but rather the way they have been applied has been the problem so we need to change the culture around this. Certainly this government is very committed to bringing in changes.'

Partner Heather Pugh at Milton-Keynes head-quartered planners, David Lock Associates, said:

'The scale of the Arc ambition is fantastic and an economic prospectus was published in early October by a group of twenty five councils and ten universities. However, there is a huge lack of mapping and drawing on housing for the Arc. There is momentum both from the LEPs and from the government, but there is no strategic plan for the Arc. The issue now is how we engage with wider communities on the benefits of being in this knowledge corridor stretching from Cambridge in the east via Milton Keynes and Bedford to Oxford.