* indicates required

Growth Corridor ‘can be a £400 billion post-Brexit powerhouse’

But delivery of a planned Expressway Road and a reopened Varsity Line linking the region’s economic centres is essential to maintain the impressive growth seen in the Corridor since 2013. 

The Corridor’s economy would grow to £400 billion if it continues expanding at the pace of recent years, said property consultants Bidwells.

The Corridor’s Gross Value Added will surpass £300 billion by 2050, even if the region’s growth slowed below the long-term average rates seen since 1998, said Bidwells’ economic analysts.  

Senior partner Patrick McMahon said: “The Growth Corridor is the UK’s next Economic Powerhouse. This knowledge-intensive region is already big on ideas but is set to become much bigger in economic value too.  

“Bold leadership from government ministers and a commitment to expediently delivering the Expressway and East-West Rail is essential, however, to ensure the long-term growth potential of the corridor is fully realised.”  

Bidwells’ latest Growth Corridor research looked at a National Infrastructure Commission-defined Growth Corridor area and the latest ONS statistics (2016) and found the corridor delivered a GVA of £105 billion in 2016 and is likely to surpass £113 billion by the end of 2018.

The corridor has grown by an average of 4% a year since 1998.

The NIC reported to government in Autumn 2017 that the Growth Corridor area generated £90 billion per year for the national economy but said this could surpass £250 billion a year by 2050 with new investment in road and rail infrastructure, estimated by the independent advisory body in 2017 to cost £ 7billion.

Should growth continue at the long-term average rate of 4%. the corridor’s GVA will reach £398 billion in 2050, found Bidwells’ researchers.

Sue Foxley, Bidwells research director, said: “With one million new homes jobs proposed for the corridor, significant infrastructure investment is required now to ensure the economy pushes to the top of our forecast.

“The government’s Industrial Strategy puts this region at the heart of the UK economy but infrastructure investment, in the right places, must follow to facilitate this impressive rate of growth in a post-Brexit world.”  

Bidwells’ other key research findings include:
  • The whole Growth Corridor area has delivered a 0.9% pa higher GVA expansion when compared with the UK over the period 1998-2016.
  • A high-growth ‘core area’ has delivered a long run average GVA of 4.7% per annum, compared with 4.0% for the Corridor as a whole
  • At a future growth rate of 3.25% – well below the long-term average for the Corridor – the area’s GVA will reach £312 billion by 2050
  • An estimated 15-20m sq ft of further office and lab space, across approximately 540 hectares of land, will be needed to accommodate this projected growth

Jason Longhurst, director of regeneration and business at Central Bedfordshire Council and chair of the Central Corridor Group said:  "We absolutely welcome this private sector research, which reflects the earlier findings of the public sector that placed emphasis on the fundamental role of economic growth ahead of housing numbers. 

“The figures are significant but, as per the previous NIC report, relate to a relatively narrow city-based geographical core. 

“We are confident that the wider Growth Corridor – which can already boast tremendous productivity – will expand these figures even further, under the guidance of private sector business, presenting superb economic growth opportunities for the UK." 

More from Bedford: