A new report makes the case for unleashing the potential of one of the UK's major economic regions, the 'London-Stansted-Cambridge-Corridor'. It outlines a 20-year vision for the Corridor that would see it become one of the top “knowledge regions” in the world, competing alongside Silicon Valley, Boston’s high-tech / life science cluster, Greater Munich, Øresund in Scandinavia, and emerging regions in Asia.

The Corridor’s GVA has grown 6.1% since the recession compared with the UK average of 3.7% and its productivity is 16% higher than the national average. It is also host to some of the country’s fastest growing towns and cities, including Stevenage and Bishops Stortford, accounting for 10% of England’s population growth.

The Commission has identified the following issues which need to be addressed:

  • The area needs devolved powers so that the economic benefits of growth can be spent locally on meeting the challenges of growth – transport, skills, social and housing infrastructure;

  • It needs more flexible means of financing infrastructure, transport and housing development to unlock private and institutional investment likely to be attracted to the Corridor’s high rates of growth;

  • Stansted Airport has the capacity to expand and needs to be supported to grow further. It should be able to support an “airport economic development zone” in its immediate surroundings;

  • The Apprenticeship Levy needs to be devolved and allowed to address the skills needs of a rapidly growing high-tech region. The Corridor needs to improve local workforce development, ensuring all communities can access labour market opportunities and the benefits of growth;

  • Following these steps would help the London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor at least match emerging regions from Asia on technological capability and, crucially, would enable the area to out-compete them on quality of business location, quality of life, and the depth of collaboration between firms, research institutes, entrepreneurs, higher education and government.

  • Sir Harvey McGrath, Growth Commission Chairman, said: “This report shows that if we have the ambition and the willingness to act collaboratively we can build a truly world leading economy. We identify the main challenges hindering business investment: the lack of workforce skills, housing and transport capacity. We are not asking for grants from Government, but the freedoms and flexibilities to utilitise private investment and global capital to reach our goals.”

You can download the report in full, and as an executive summary.