All-women design team win award for their vision of Cambridge to Oxford development

A six-strong team have won a much sought-after award after they produced a “people-centred” vision which laid out a prosperous future for the Cambridge - Milton Keynes - Oxford arc.  

The VeloCity team led by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design were announced as winners of The Cambridge to Oxford Connection: Ideas Competition by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) after the report highlighted how their design could enable authorities across the region to overcome housing constraints and transport pressures, while ensuring the region’s long-term prosperity.

The commission were high in praise for how the design provided a low-impact blueprint for delivering much-needed new homes while maintaining a person-centred scale and retaining the existing character of the area. The successful team included Jennifer Ross from Tibbalds, along with Sarah Featherstone (Featherstone Young), Kay Hughes (Khaa), Petra Marko (Marko and Placemakers), Annalie Riches (Mikhail Riches) and Judith Sykes (Expedition Engineering).

VeloCity focused on six villages situated to the south east of one of the new stations on the Oxford to Cambridge rail link as a test bed. Taking the opportunities that will be created through the introduction of a new integrated system of fast rail and road links connecting major towns and cities, the proposals introduce an associated finer grain network of local, medium and longer distance cycle and pedestrian routes which presented a strategy for a future which no longer needs to rely so heavily on movements by car. The jury felt the vision could be replicated across the arc to support a substantial number of new homes.

Bridget Rosewell, commissioner and competition jury chair, said: “The jury was drawn to VeloCity’s human scale approach to sensitively and incrementally accommodating new homes, alongside the team’s commitment to ensuring new settlements would be communities from the get-go. Creating effective new settlements can be challenging: the team’s flair and imagination in addressing this shows how good design can translate into liveable communities.”

The competition was launched earlier in the year to seek ideas for creating high-quality urban places across the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford arc. Designers, architects and planners were invited to enter with visions that could capitalise on huge growth potential identified by a NIC report. 58 teams from the UK and further afield entered at the first stage.

Commenting on the award, VeloCity team leader Jennifer Ross, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to win. The six of us met taking part in women’s cycling events and became friends through a shared interest in designing places that put the pedestrian and cyclist first. We wanted to work together and the competition was the perfect opportunity. We spent a lot of time discussing density and place-making and how the implementation of new public transport infrastructure can change the way we plan for and think about building successful communities.”

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