By Simon Brandon
It might be synonymous with an 800-year-old university, but there is more to Cambridge than gowns: this small but perfectly formed city in the east of England has become a global technology hub whose growth shows no signs of slowing.
Take a punt
Cambridge is bursting with stunning architecture, history and green spaces. The river Cam winds through its centre, past old colleges and lawns, under willows and bridges; navigating it on a flat-bottomed boat called a punt is the quintessential summer pastime here. Or you can drift west along the Cam to Grantchester, an ideal of an English village that captivated the poet Rupert Brooke, and moor your boat a short hop from the The Red Lion pub.
The city is not living in the past, however. Cambridge is one of Europe’s most important centres for technology and life sciences, and is growing fast. The total turnover of businesses in the so-called Cambridge Cluster — the area within a 30km radius of the city centre — rose 13 per cent last year, while the workforce grew 9 per cent.
Cambridge is one of the best places to live and work in the UK, according to an annual survey by recruitment site Glassdoor — and the city’s thriving tech sector is one reason why. But Cambridge is also within easy commuting distance of London: the fast service to King’s Cross takes about 50 minutes. As a result, however, property prices in Cambridge saw the biggest increase in the UK in 2017 and the average house price is around £462,000 — only £20,000 or so less than London.
Two wheels good
For those who live and work in Cambridge, commuting can be good for your health. Bicycles, like students, are everywhere. According to the city council, one in four Cambridge residents cycles to work. The terrain is Fenland flat and there are 80 miles of bike paths around the city, along the river and through its many parks such as Jesus Green and Midsummer Common, which hug a large stretch of the Cam’s south bank just north of the city centre.
Corridor to the future
The Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor is a mini-region stretching 125km west from Cambridge to Oxford, home to another of the world’s top universities, via the new town of Milton Keynes. It is one of the UK’s most economically successful regions, according to a government report published last year. Pending a consultation, the government says it plans to build on that success by investing in faster road and rail links, housing and business growth, though concrete plans and levels of funding have yet to be determined.
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