Robots, driverless cars and virtual reality could become part of our everyday life in 30 years – but until Oxford realises its technological Utopia, the public has the power to shape the vision for the city in 2050.
Businesses, schools, technology firms and residents have been encouraged to take part in a five-week consultation to help formulate a framework for Oxford as the council prepares for its largest period of growth in history.
The city is expected to grow from 161,000 people today to 190,000 in the next 33 years – its population was 115,000 33 years ago.
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “Experts are predicting huge changes to the way we live, work and travel: driverless cars, robots in the home and augmented high street are just some ideas.”
Describing the vision as a ‘statement of intent’, the Labour leader added: “We are the guardians of Oxford today, and handing over ‘that sweet city with her dreaming spires’ is a weighty responsibility.”
The consultation, which launched on Monday and will explore the impact of new technologies on the city’s development, asks people for their thoughts based on five key themes.
The first theme this week has been on work and learning, with following weeks to focus on people and community; built and natural environment; transport and connectivity and culture and leisure.
With the average age of Oxford being 29.9 years – the youngest median age in England and Wales – more than half the city’s population in 2050 will not yet have been born.
Cllr Price said: “Oxford is important. It is the home of the world’s greatest thinkers, the world’s greatest writers and the world’s future leaders. Oxford has a seat at the world’s table.
“But to keep us there tomorrow we need to work together today. We want you – residents, businesses, universities – to take part in the creation of this vision statement, so everyone can use it as a marker to drive towards.”
Oxford University research will underpin many of the changes in the next 30 years. Dr Phil Clare said: “To maintain our position as a globally leading university we must be part of a successful and sustainable city and we will continue to work with the city council to play an active role in this process.”
To comment on the consultation go to oxford2050.com