The Arc The Arc


The Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge Arc

Arc hive

It is no secret that technology is being heralded as the saviour of the future. The race to produce smarter, faster and cheaper technological solutions has become the most desired outcome of the present governments. It offers a deeper and more advantageous control of our society and use of resources but also a new set of problems.

Ever since populations have streamed into cities seeking work and hopefully a better life, it has changed the affected environment and supply problems. This paradigm is now quite well known and it is the remit of many organisations and experts to plan ahead for the impact that this will bring to the Arc and its close towns. Bletchley Park was not chosen by chance to be the centre point of Britain’s security fight back in WW2 but was midpoint between the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. This is still the centre of the Arc and is now overshadowed by the new city of Milton Keynes.

The new scientific developments in such fields as machine learning and medicine presently lead the field but other disciplines are not standing still. Although modern communication allows us to be in contact with others at all times we are still a social species and like to be close. This is reinforced by our desire for nearby amenities and social gatherings. This paradox means that in spite of our technical advances most of us still like to mingle.

Why here and what next?

Centres of excellence just do not happen, they need an organic infrastructure to produce the people that make it a reality. Leading universities are great power houses to supply and attract the talent that is necessary to make the dream come true. Some of the great problems of urban life is the lack and high cost of housing and travel. To be truly successful these and other difficulties must be faced and hopefully solved. The area of the arc is mostly built in already affluent areas and the expansion of the arc will exacerbate these problems.

There is consensus around the long-term under-supply of housing and the need to address this, but there is less agreement within the industry about how best to achieve the necessary step-change in supply. Commentators agree that there is no ‘silver bullet’ and call for a range of solutions across several policy areas. The 2017 UK Housing Review Briefing Paper (September 2017) argues that while supply is of critical importance, “so is the rather more neglected issue of affordability, in both the private and social housing sectors.” The Resolution Foundation has said that a greater proportion of genuinely affordable homes to rent and own will be needed “to make housing less of a living standards burden for families.” In the foreword to the June 2017 IPPR report, What more can be done to build the homes we need? Sir Michael Lyons said: “We would stress that it is not just the number built but also the balance of tenures and affordability which need to be thought through for an effective housing strategy.” This is echoed in research commissioned by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and Crisis from Heriot-Watt.

Pre-requisites for new housing :

  • Building the right homes in the right places.
  • Building them faster.
  • Widening the range of builders and construction methods.
  • ‘Helping people now’ including investing in new affordable housing and preventing homelessness
  • Making land available

Technologies of the Future

The completion of the Arc will improve the connective ability of the inhabitants to travel and communicate with each other. The inherent qualities of “Smart Cities” or area in this case must capitalise on its strengths as the cost of create the Arc will be high. The advantages of such an outlay must be re-paid financially as well as socially. The sad position where the UK as creator of the original railways has fallen behind many others must be reassessed and improved. The word smart will be used a lot, let us hope the designers and financiers are also smart.

Things that urban engineers are dealing with include, how do you take the opportunity with people armed with smart phones to deal with urbanisation? How do you combine technology and ubiquitous mobility and an increasing voracious appetite on the part of city dwellers to have efficiency, and how do they get services now, and how do they really interact in a more fluid way with common city services? This is about transforming people's lives into making them more efficient.

Quality of life is not spending three hours in a car every day. If you're becoming smarter and more connected and utilising those city services that are available then you're alleviating some of those problem points. One of the most important reasons to have a smart city is that we can actually communicate with our environment in a way that we never have in the past.

Smart city capability should be touching on that higher wave of transition of people being able to communicate and interact with the environment around them. That could be physical assets that are around them, services that are available around them and the ability to not only get information but provide a two-way dialogue between an individual and their environment and the services that enable activities around that space.

The expansion of IOT (Edge Computing) that links up all kinds of sensors and activators will extend greatly in the future. Privacy will be the sacrifice for the ability to have your home and work place autonomously controlled by ‘boxes’ that will work seamlessly without your knowledge. Social media as already proved that people will swop privacy for the many abilities that will be present to help you manage your life, hopefully for the better.

Water, food and power

The increased density in this new area will have to solve the same problems has London has now. New buildings will have to be more efficient with improved solar capabilities and better insulation/cooling systems. Water will be an increasing worry and will have to be given priority in planning. Food production and distribution will also have to have a more novel approach to its content and storage. The old concepts will have to be changed to facilitate the general urbanisation of the U.K.

Estimated budgetary costs (2017) in £bn

Increased area bonus


Cost of rail construction


New Bus Expressway


New houses etc ...

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