‘Growth Commission’ set up to unlock potential of the London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor

An aerial view of Stansted Airport.

An aerial view of Stansted Airport. - Credit: Archant

A Growth Commission is being launched to help unlock the full economic potential of the London–Stansted-Cambridge Corridor.

The aim is to set out a 30-year vision for the region, with the commission providing independent analysis of its economic performance and highlighting challenges that need to be overcome.

The commission has been set up by the London-Stansted-Cambridge Consortium, a partnership of public and private organisations in the M11/A10 corridors.

It will be chaired by Harvey McGrath, former chair ofPrudential and Man Group plc, who will lead a team of expert economists, business groups and representatives of academic institutions, including the University of Cambridge.

The consortium that barriers to the region’s expansion and continued success include the inability of its rail and road infrastructure to meet existing demand, meaning further problems as the local economy grows, and a skills shortage facing technology and service firms.

Mr McGrath said: “The most successful regional economies in the world have both scale and density, and extend beyond the boundaries of one city. Here we have two great cities, London and Cambridge, and we have a transport infrastructure with huge potential. But there are problems – the rail link to Stansted Airport in particular is inadequate and firms are frustrated by staffing issues.

“Ideas, services and products that are invented here are used throughout the world and for the UK to succeed in the global economy, the Corridor needs to succeed. I hope the Growth Commission will do its bit to ensure this happens.”

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Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council and deputy chair of the commission, said: “We are delighted that Harvey McGrath has agreed to chair this independent Growth Commission. He brings huge business expertise, with a global perspective.

“Harvey is supported by a range of independently minded Commissioners who we are sure will develop an excellent and insightful vision for the region’s economic future. We hope that the Commission will make a compelling case for investment in our infrastructure to support smart growth, demonstrating the return on investment for UK Plc.”

Andrew Harrison, managing director of Stansted Airport, added: “We are very pleased to be supporting the work of the Growth Commission. This region is a truly global asset for the UK.

“Due to the strength of our knowledge economy we are attracting firms which would otherwise look to locate in Berlin, New York or Singapore. Stansted Airport is undergoing a period of rapid growth and major capital investment, increasing our global connectivity and playing our part in supporting our international economy. We look forward to the commission setting out a strong and compelling economic vision for the region and making a powerful case for inward investment.”

The commission will look to UK and global examples of successful regional development and see how lessons could be applied to the corridor. The “Northern Powerhouse” initiative and the success of the M4 Corridor will be examined

alongside Silicon Valley, Greater Munich, the Rhein-Ruhr conurbation and North Carolina’s “Triangle” area.

The work of the Growth Commission will comprise a high quality research programme and four “inquiry events” and will take place between now and next summer. Findings and recommendations are to be launched in June 2016.