Mayor James Palmer, leader of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, has today welcomed an announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to develop a long-term plan to deliver for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, along with the creation an Arc Growth body.
The ‘Oxford-Cambridge Spatial Framework’ will provide a long term and strategic approach to planning and growth for the area, helping to unlock the potential of the Arc, which is the corridor of land connecting Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.
The aim is to improve it as a place to live and work by creating new environmentally friendly public transport links, sustainable housing and new jobs.
This investment will bring new economic opportunities to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, opening it up from East to West.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is developing plans for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro, a world-leading public transport network to serve the region that will offer better, faster, cleaner, and more reliable journeys between towns, villages, key employment sites and the city of Cambridge. The metro could provide further public transport links from East to West.
Earlier this year, the government announced the East West Rail Company’s preferred route for the new line between Bedford and Cambridge. The government will also build a new rail station at Cambridge South, improving connectivity to the world-leading research facilities of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus – the largest cluster of medical and life sciences research in Europe.
These new transport links have the potential to dramatically improve the local economy, housing supply and environmental impacts. In the Arc region alone, transport emissions are responsible for 46.8% of total carbon dioxide emissions in the area, compared with 36.6% nationally. This is driven in part by car‑dependence, with 67% of the workplace population travelling by car, compared to 60% nationally.
The plan will be an official assessment of the infrastructure needed including digital and transport, green infrastructure, business space, homes and utilities, to support strong economic growth across the region. It will invite the views of the people living there, offering communities a chance to shape the future of their area and ensure the benefits of growth are felt across the region.
Mayor James Palmer also welcomes the intention from central government to create an Arc Growth Body. This will give a clear economic leadership voice to the area, building upon the success of regional partnerships in the Midlands Engine and Northern Powerhouse.
James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough said:
“I have long made the case for the need to open up economic opportunities across wider areas with enhanced public transport and investment. With clean, fast and sustainable public transport such as the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro, people can travel easily between major employment hubs including Cambridge and Oxford, creating a stronger workforce which allows businesses to expand, as well as generating new possibilities for affordable housing and helping to reduce the negative environmental impacts that come with over reliance on cars.
“Government has identified the Arc as a key area for hi-tech, green economic growth and investment, and I am proud that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is at the forefront of this project. We have already seen, through the East West Rail, A14 and A428 projects, that the Government knows the importance of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough economy and the certainty of return on any investment in our infrastructure.
“The Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro is just one example of the innovative, transformative and green projects the Arc can help promote; projects with a genuinely national economic significance alongside the infrastructure benefits that we know are necessary to fully realise economic growth across the Arc.”
Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said:
“The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is already home to world-leading economic, cultural and scientific assets.”
“We know for instance Cambridge’s rate of patent applications – a key indicator of innovation – is the highest in the United Kingdom, while nearby Milton Keynes is the fastest growing city in the country. “
“We want to take this region to the next phase of its renaissance by unlocking its full potential and our plans will drive investment where it is needed and ensure, as growth happens, we create well-designed, inclusive and vibrant places and communities.”
“The OxCam Spatial Framework will allow us to plan positively for growth and we look forward to working with our local partners over the coming months to strengthen our vision and approach to the Arc.”
Councillor Barry Wood, Chair of the Arc Leadership Group and Leader Cherwell District Council said:
“We welcome the continuing commitment from Government to the Oxford to Cambridge Arc through today’s announcements.
“We look forward to working together with local people and our local partners to deliver an economy that works for all, underpinned by a high-quality natural environment. This will include planning for and enabling development that is truly inclusive and sustainable which delivers real benefits for our communities and environment now and in the future.”
The Arc Leadership Group, which brings together local authorities, business,
transport groups and universities, will further its aims through this spatial framework, ensuring it reflects twin priorities around boosting the science and technology-
intensive economy and improving the natural environment.
The Leaders published an official prospectus last September, showing the potential to double economic output across the Arc region to over £200 billion by 2050, and
helping to inform the spatial framework’s direction of travel.