Cambridge needs to extend its brand
Cambridge has withstood the recession better than any other region outside of London, but its growth can only be sustained by extending the brand beyond the city centre.
That was the verdict among the panel at the EG East of England Question Time held at Murray Edwards College on Friday, 9 November.
The road show included Sven Topel, chief executive of developer Brookgate, Wrenbridge boss Ben Coles, Emma Fletcher, property director at Marshalls and Rob Sadler, Savills’ regional head of commercial.
Emma Fletcher highlighted the aspirations of Cambridge newcomers to live in the city centre.
She said: “Everybody expects they're going to see King’s College Chapel from their house, they want the 01223 number.”
She added expanding the “brand” out to Alconbury, East Cambs and Forest Heath by investing in schools and infrastructure was the only way to combat the inevitable congestion.
Topel urged authorities to shorten the planning process to assist a dynamic growth strategy, and Rob Sadler warned the Far East could be one of Cambridge’s biggest future competitors.
The panel also discussed why buildings around the city are so bland. “We're in a tough market at the moment and we were probably developing buildings that were ultra flexible and could be occupied by a number of different tenants. Therefore they probably appear slightly more boring,” said Coles.
Other panellists were Charles Staveley, partner at Mills & Reeve and Nick Clarke, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.
EG editor Damian Wild chaired the event, sponsored by Mills & Reeve and Savills.
Watch the video below for highlights of the event, or listen to a podcast of the full debate. You can also download the podcast by clicking here, or heading to Estates Gazette's iTunes channel.