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Digital consultation launched on Oxford-Cambridge Arc

Words: Huw Morris
Oxford to Cambridge Arc

A major digital consultation into the long-term development of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc has been launched by the government, which also announced that an expert panel will advise on sustainable economic and housing growth.

The move is the first of three consultations to inform a spatial framework in the next two years, with a digital platform created for the public to make its views known.

Their comments will help create the spatial framework’s vision for the area to 2050, and guide planning and investment decisions on the environment, the economy, connectivity and infrastructure, as well as placemaking. The consultation also covers the government’s sustainability appraisal of the framework.

The government also announced an expert panel will advise on sustainable economic and housing growth in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. 

The panel will be chaired by Emma Cariaga, joint head of the Canada Water Development and head of residential at British Land. It will advise the government on issues ranging from design and sustainability to delivery and investment models. 

The panel will primarily focus on the area Bedford and Cambridge, where the government is committed to exploring the case for new or expanded settlements, including those linked to potential East West Rail stations. Other panel members will be confirmed later.

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc, identified by the government as a key economic priority, spans the ceremonial counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. It includes three county councils, 17 district councils, six unitary authorities and one combined authority.

The government said “with the right interventions and investment”, local forecasts suggest that economic output in the arc could double to more than £200 billion by 2050. 

The consultation will last 12 weeks. The next document, entitled Towards a Spatial Framework is scheduled to be published for consultation next spring and will focus on options for delivering the framework’s objectives.

The government then aims to publish a draft spatial framework for consultation in autumn 2022.

Image credit | Moloko Vector, Shutterstock