Sam Davies

Imagine 2050

In last week’s blog, I talked about how headlines and debate continue to focus on specific schemes (e.g. the Sustainable Travel Zone, East West Rail), even while our politicians remain curiously silent about the intended overwhelming growth for our region.

And yet, if you dig into the detail, that intention is clear. For example, read the 250 page Economic and Technical Appendix released alongside the East West Rail route announcement and you’ll see that it assumes the expansion of Cambourne from its current population of just over 9000 residents to over 53000 residents by 2050. And that the installation of a new EWR station at Tempsford, a village of 600 residents south of St Neots, will ‘unlock’ the creation of a settlement of over 44000 residents in the same timeframe.

Reading this, I was reminded of a map published by geographer Alasdair Rae, where he splits the current population of the UK into four broadly equal parts:

Now extrapolate forward from the EWR ‘vision’ and its counterparts, and imagine what that map will look like by 2050. But presumably the consultants who write these reports are not paid to consider:

  1. The environmental stresses already manifesting themselves, particularly in terms of water demand (see this previous post);
  2. The failure to retain the economic proceeds of growth locally or distribute them evenly (see this previous post); and
  3. The well-documented weaknesses of our local governance structures which cripple any attempt to address either of the above:


Sam Davies


  • ***Now it makes sense!***

    I missed the population growth in Cambourne in my blogpost about the alternative northern entrance. ( Note the list of the towns they give:

    1) MK/Bletchley
    2) Woburn Sands
    3) Ridgmont
    4) Stewartby
    5) Bedford
    6) Tempsford
    7) Cambourne

    That’s the original OxCam Arc. They match the areas identified in the National Infrastructure Commission’s report of Nov 2017.

  • Hello Sam
    Interesting discussion of the way of the way the population is split into four roughly equal parts. I am looking at a map of the possible coastline in 2050 if global warming continues. To the North of the region, the Wash has vastly expanded, swallowing up Boston, Spalding and Wisbech. Ely has become an island once more and Cambridge is on the coast. To the west, Great Yarmouth, Southwold, Aldeburgh and Felixstowe have all disappeared; Norwich is on the coast as is Ipswich.
    If this prediction is in any way accurate, this would have significant effects on growth for the region and population distribution. Happy to share the map if it would be useful.

  • Yes, I’d be very interested in taking a look – maybe Alasdair Rae would too!

  • sending it to your email address. It was on the wall of the lifeboat station in Happisburgh a few years ago – a building that has since fallen into the sea in the same way that a frightening amount of the village has. I don’t know the provenance of this document but it is food for thought.