The cities of Oxford and Cambridge are, of course, famous worldwide for their university colleges. However, over the last couple of decades especially they have developed an additional reputation as centres of business and commerce and also as desirable 'honeypot' commuter locations too. In this report we will look at what's going on in these two markets, including both the student and wider property markets, and at what the prospects for investors might be.
Oxford's population is currently 125,000, a figure which has grown 12% over the last decade making it one of England's fastest expanding cities. Official forecasts suggest the population will grow by 10,000 by the end of this decade.
The universities (the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University) are significant contributors to the economy and also to the population, having around 30,000 students and supporting approximately 21,000 jobs in the wider area. However, there are a number of other significant industries/employers too including professional and scientific, publishing and IT, tourism and hospitality, healthcare, retail and manufacturing. The BMW 'Plant Mini' at Cowley is the largest private sector employer with 4,000 jobs and has announced plans to create another 1,000.
Oxford benefits from a strategic position on the road network, but a number of upcoming rail projects will make it much better connected by rail and potentially even more attractive to commuters. A new half-hourly fast service to London Marylebone from a new Oxford Parkway station will start in 2016. The reopened East West railway line will connect Oxford to Bedford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury and allow Oxford travellers to connect into Midland Main Line and West Coast Main Line services in 2019 and could eventually re-establish a rail service to Cambridge. Other regional rail lines are being electrified allowing faster services and a direct service to London Heathrow Airport is proposed.