Housing Minister Chris Pincher has announced Government plans to unleash the economic and cultural potential of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

At Pegasus Group we welcome the recent announcement providing clarity from the Government on the much needed spatial framework for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc that will bring together the longstanding aspirations of sustainable economic growth, infrastructure delivery and new homes helping to underpin the arc’s important contribution to the country’s wider economic recovery.Oxford-Cambridge Arc logo

The intention is to prepare a Spatial Framework Plan and establish an Arc Growth Body to help unleash the area’s potential as a global innovation powerhouse.

The area spans the five counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

The Spatial Framework, to be published in 2022 as national planning policy and transport guidance, will drive investment where it is needed to ensure that as growth happens, well-designed, inclusive and vibrant places and communities will be created.

The Policy Paper published with the announcement sets out the approach the Government intends to take in relation to the timeline, community engagement and the high level scope of the Framework.

The Paper notes that it is not just a story about Oxford and Cambridge and their sub-regions.  Milton Keynes and Northampton have the highest economic output in the Arc and have a sector profile different and complementary to Oxford/Cambridge.

The Policy Paper notes that the rates of job creation in the Arc have far exceeded current local plan jobs targets and housing delivery rates are significantly below the level likely to be needed to accommodate current housing needs and future job creation rates.

The Government consider there is the need for the coordination of planning functions across the region to set out a strategic approach to support better planning.  Ten core principles are set out for the Spatial Framework that will plan to 2050 and beyond.

The Framework will indicate locations for growth but will not make allocations or include detailed policies.

A three- phased timescale is set out:

  • Vision – public engagement on the vision in Summer 2021;
  • Towards a Spatial Framework – an options consultation in Spring 2022;
  • Draft Spatial Framework – published for consultation in Autumn 2022 and implemented shortly after.

What could this mean for Cambridge?

Andrew HodgsonAndrew Hodgson, Senior Director from our Cambridge office said: “The Arc will have significant benefit to Cambridgeshire through improved investment in infrastructure and new housing, which will significantly benefit the cities of Cambridge and Peterborough and help them both to fulfil their full economic potential. The Government has already recognised the importance of infrastructure development in Cambridgeshire through the A14 and A428 upgrades and the significant investment in improved rail links.

“The projected economic growth and promotion of the arc internationally will also support the regions already world leading scientific and research capabilities and keep Cambridge at the forefront of developing new ideas and as one of the world leading cities for innovation.

“We therefore welcome the recent Government announcement of the new strategic level of planning across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and hope it will provide a clear vision for delivery of growth for Cambridgeshire and provide the necessary national planning policy legislation to allow decision makers to deliver on the vision.”

The significance to Northamptonshire

Guy LongleyGuy Longley, Executive Director from our East Midlands office said: “The Government’s proposals to set out a spatial framework for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc represents a positive approach to the need to coordinate growth across the five counties making up the area.

“As the Policy Paper emphasises, this is not just about Oxford and Cambridge and their sub-regions, but also about Milton Keynes and Northampton which have the highest economic output in the Arc, with a sector profile that is different and complementary to Oxford and Cambridge.

“The Spatial Framework will therefore have important implications for future development opportunities across West and North Northamptonshire. The commitment to adopt a collaborative approach to the preparation of the Framework with early engagement with local partners and meaningful consultation to allow stakeholders to comment on policies and growth options is also welcomed.”

It is expected that local planning authorities will continue to develop local plans before the publication of the Framework.

For more information about the Oxford-Cambridge Arc announcement, please see GOV.UK or contact Andrew Hodgson, Guy Longley, Nicky Parsons or Robert Barber.

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