Option 4: Focus on strengthening business locations

Scope & Scale

This option centres on the network of business and science parks that covers Oxfordshire and particularly those identified as priority economic assets in the OXLEP LIS key locations within Oxfordshire’s 'innovation ecosystem'.

This option includes consideration of growth proposals that would extend business and science parks or create new ones, with housing and residential areas alongside, co-located with these economic hubs, to reduce the need to travel and to create more sustainable locations. This option does not support the conversion of business parks themselves for housing.

This option would also include the intensification of economic activities at the business and science parks, building on current economic strengths in key sectors such as life sciences and advanced engineering, as new economic innovations are applied, and buildings need to be repurposed to support new economic activities and create more jobs. As the OXLEP LIS highlights, as current and new economic sectors grow, the demand for employment space will grow further. It is also anticipated that as the Oxford to Cambridge Arc takes shape over the next 20 to 30 years, more land for economic purposes will be required, especially as the economy gradually converts to net zero carbon and new economic opportunities arise for the wider economy and SMEs as a result.

The option would focus new growth where it would help to support/strengthen Oxfordshire's key economic assets and take account of key economic assets identified in the LIS that are not yet built out. The limits of the option are that it is anticipated that the opportunity to undertake the sort of residential growth alongside the network of business parks that is proposed in this option is modest.

This option could include the creation of new settlements, where new business and science parks are proposed as part of a comprehensive, mixed use development proposal.

Location identified in LIS (Figure 10)

Banbury Oxford Brookes University

Begbroke Science Park Oxford Business Park

Bicester Garden Town Oxford Centre for Innovation

Carterton/Brize Norton Oxford North

Culham Science Centre Oxford Science Park

Didcot Garden Town Oxford Station and West End

Grove Technology Park Oxford Technology Park

Harwell Campus Oxford University

Headington Hospital Quarter Salt Cross garden Village

Heyford Park Shrivenham Defence Academy

Howbery Park The Quadrant, Abingdon

Milton Park Witney Business and Innovation Centre

Osney Meads Innovation Quarter

Justification

Oxfordshire is at the centre of innovation for the UK. It has a strong network of science parks and innovation firms across the county, with towns such as Bicester and Banbury, Carterton and locations such as Heyford Park all playing an important role, alongside the globally significant Science Vale with it critical economic assets at Culham and Harwell and the City of Oxford, with its universities, at the heart of the county-wide network.

The strength of Oxfordshire's economy has been and will be driven to a large extent by innovation sectors and business clusters within towns such as Bicester and Didcot as well as transformative technologies developed through the universities and the network of business and science parks in Oxfordshire.

The challenges in retaining growth in these key sectors and enabling business to establish themselves and grow in Oxfordshire are well recognised and include the availability of space for business to grow, the availability of affordable housing and capacity in the transport and infrastructure network.

This option supports clean economic growth to support innovation and economic prosperity across the county. The option would support the intensification and extension of existing business and science sites and emphasises supporting innovation and securing innovation centres, live-work units and building on the recent Treasury Plan for Growth.

Supporting the growth and sustainability of Oxfordshire's innovation ecosystem will help support a balanced economy across Oxfordshire so that prosperity is shared. This option includes the potential to renew and strengthen the economic role of our city and town centres.

The focus of this option is on the spatial relationship between these key innovation and economic growth clusters, with the emphasis on enhanced transport and digital connectivity and the co-location of housing and jobs to reduce the need for travel and create a more sustainable approach to growth.

This option takes account of a recent survey of key employment sites and their potential for growth.

The option also addresses the impact of COVID-19 and the long-term need for people to be located close to their workplaces - recognising lots of the work in the knowledge economy needs specialist equipment, laboratories, etc. Also, the business opportunities arising from MoD activities and technology support undertaken at military bases such as Brize Norton.

Opportunities

Opportunities and sustainability gains to be secured where growth is considered include:

Securing global economic opportunities:

  • Supporting the innovation ecosystem and the wider economy too
  • Securing affordable housing is a key issue to address to remove a key constraint on economic growth
  • Spreading growth and investment (and the opportunities associated with this) across a wide geographical area and a wide range of key economic assets.

Securing local (Oxfordshire) economic opportunities:

  • Reducing the need to travel
  • Concentration of growth around sustainable transport nodes
  • Securing '20 minute neighbourhoods'
  • Extended walking and cycling provision including connections to regional routes.

Option 4 – Focus on strengthening business locations.

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