Arc Universities

Everyone has an opinion on the Oxford-Cambridge Arc – and today (26 Nov) the industry gathered to share, shape and debate how to unlock its potential. Here are twelve snapshots and sound bites from Ben Copithorne, Director at Camargue (reproduced from original article on Linkedin)

1. On relevance: “The Arc is not some parochial conversation – it is a leader in placemaking and about thinking globally. It is central to the future of this country.”

2. On business and start ups: “The spin outs being generated in Oxford alone are growing exponentially, doubling year on year. The challenge to everyone in this room is to recognise that and respond. Each one of these companies will leave if they can’t find the right space to grow. And they won’t just leave the area, they’ll quite likely leave this country.”

3. On politics: “We need central government to get visibly behind this project. Getting the local authorities to all pull together is tough. Let’s not underestimate the degree of difficulty here.”

4. On local buy in: “A big challenge is to get local communities to see growth as a purposeful and positive thing. We must be clear with people about why it is important. And that has to be done locally. We need to bring people with us.”

5. On regions and economics: “The Arc is for the UK. This is about additionality. It’s not about prioritising one area and economy over another. It’s about growing the whole.”

6. On engagement: “Engagement is critical. We all need to be doing more. We are probably cruising at the moment.”

7. On strategic planning: “Short-term political cycles kill long-term strategic planning.”

8. On a National Policy Statement: “It’s vital government takes the lead – the Arc is essential infrastructure. The answer is quite simple: the government needs to knuckle down and do a National Policy Statement.”

9. On spatial planning: “The Arc is an economic strategy that hasn’t got a spatial one. We need a combined vision that’s genuine and built on an understanding of place.”

10. On Green Infrastructure: “There is a risk of focusing on the hard infrastructure. We need to talk about green infrastructure and we need more comprehensive thinking about land use planning.”

11. On digital: “We need to move the conversation off roads and houses and onto the real system solution here – and that needs digital infrastructure and less so roads.”

12. On natural capital: “We need to know the assets and liabilities on natural capital to start with and for a baseline. Only then can we understand the impacts. If you don’t know what you’ve got to start with, you’ve no idea about what you’re going to lose or gain going forwards.”

What’s your opinion?

**Thanks to Ben for allowing us to reproduce his article. Visit Linkedin to find out more.**