Cambridge Ahead meeting 16.6.18: Summary notes by Peter V Landshoff

There are 24,000 companies registered in Cambridge, plus local branches of nationals
and multinationals and small businesses, such as plumbers.
The ONS claims that total annual employment growth in the area has been 2.2% in the
past few years, but more recently 4%. Cambridge Ahead tracks the growth of the
Cambridge-registered companies, which have been the motor of local growth.Their figures
show employment growth over 6 years of 7% pa and most recently 9.2%.
Housing building growth in Cambridge and South Cambs is amongst the highest in the
country, but still lags employment demand.
This has resulted in huge inward commuting: 65,000 people a day drive into Cambridge,
while only around 2500 commute to London.
67% of the County’s economy is in the south-east, 25% in Peterborough, and 8% in the
Fens.
One guess is that employment in the GCP area will double to 400,000 by 2051, but that incommuters
will double by 2031.
Cambridge Ahead is modelling 4 main scenarios: densification – mainly near the three rail
stations; expanding the City outwards; developing along transport corridors radiating out in
various directions; and pushing the expansion out into the market towns and other areas
beyond the green belt, with good transport links.
Knowledge-intensive companies want to agglomerate/cluster together, even though the
larger ones do not interact with one another, and this drives where growth of employment
and hence housing are located.
Cambridge has been rated the most unequal city in the country. This has got worse as the
mismatch between employment and housing growth has widened and inward commuting
has grown.
The big risk is that Cambridge will become too expensive, with two consequences:
economic activity may depart abroad (rather than elsewhere in the UK); and we will be left
with the housing inequalities and dwindling arguments to support the infrastructure
investment required.
A questioner asked whether we have the environmental capacity to continue to expand,
and there was a debate about where the money can be found to make up our huge
infrastructure deficit.

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