The Cambridge to Oxford Connection

Tuesday 15 May 2018

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Last week over 60 people gathered in the NLA galleries for a lunchtime talk exploring the VeloCity vision.

This was the second event in the Knowledge Capital programme – which includes an exhibition, events series and research paper, available to download for free. Knowledge Capital explores the transformation and development of the education, health, research and innovation sectors in London and the South East.

The free talk focused on VeloCity - a re-imagining of the village for the 21st century, created in response to a National Infrastructure Commission Ideas Competition. The all-woman VeloCity team (comprising Sarah Featherstone, from Featherstone Young, Kay Hughes, from Khaa, Annalie Riches, from Mikhail Richesand Jennifer Ross, from Tibbalds) produced a concept, using a blend of new, integrated rail routes and an improved road network to reduce reliance on vehicular traffic, introducing sustainable and healthy transport options. The competition sought inspirational visions for the future of development within the area encompassing Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Oxford,focusing on six villages situated close to the Oxford to Cambridge rail link, connecting two major knowledge centres.  

NLA Director Catherine Staniland highlighted the importance of the Golden Triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge, which became apparent during creation of the Knowledge Capital research paper. For the first time, NLA extended research boundaries and looked at activity outside London – focusing on what’s happening across the wider South East. One of the key opportunities for growth in the Golden Triangle is the delivery of improved road and rail links between Oxford and Cambridge.

Kay Hughes, Director of Khaa, introduced the project as an “intensive cluster around innovation and science hubs - bringing economic growth for the region.” A lack of affordable housing and need for a more sustainable, low energy village, with less focus on cars, was a clear motivation for the theory. 

Annalie Riches, Founding Director of Mikhail Riches, explained to the audience that the scale of villages across the corridor is huge, with them all one-two miles apart. “Villagers can’t easily walk between them as they’re used for cut-throughs for roads. They were designed for cars and aren’t safe.”  

This proposal aims to introduce anetwork of local, medium and longer distance cycle and pedestrian routes – to explore how we might plan for a future which no longer needs to rely so heavily on cars. But, as Jennifer Ross, Director of Tibbalds, explained: “It’s not saying no to cars, it’s rethinking our driving choices instead of using a car as default.” 

The idea also proposes to densify villages – bringing more amenities and supporting communal activity further. Annalie explained: “We aim to change mind sets by creating better communities with more housing and more bio-diversity. We are planning for the future countryside to offer solutions.” 

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Knowledge Capital events programme

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The Knowledge Capital research paper is accompanied by a publication, an exhibition and showcase of London education, innovation and health projects and initiatives, as well a three-month programme of events, from May - July 2018, including the following debates, talks and visits:

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Knowledge Capital: making places for education, innovation and health

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An exploration of projects, initiatives and ideas supporting the transformation of London’s education and health sector.

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