Kit Malthouse Finally Kicks off Oxford-MK-Cambridge Project – but why hush hush?

Letter to Local Planning authorities.  In March Sajid Javid promised announcements on 4 new towns – ‘within 4 weeks’ – it has taken 6 months.  Why the delay – well we have had 3 housing ministers and a department overwhelmed by the NPPF revision and many other issues.  The authorities have been given till the 14th of Sept – so presumably funding can be announced in the budget.

This is not the way to do things.  Plans for growth before thedetailed  analysis?  What did Patrick Geddes say – survey before plan? A proper regional study would take 6 months to a year and should have been commissioned immediately.  No chance for public consultation – it looks like a fix., and will be and has been used by Nimbys to oppose housing ‘ where will the water come from’ – from a region where all England’s river originate!   Northamptonshire doesn’t even yet have a governance structure to take forward a housing deal and looks like it will lose out again.

Dear all,
The Government believes that the corridor between Cambridge and Oxford has the potential to be a globally significant economy. A combination of innovation, entrepreneurship and highly-skilled workers has established it as one of the most productive and fastest growing areas in the UK. It also includes some of the least affordable housing markets in the country.
The National Infrastructure Commission has stated that realising its full potential as a world class economic hub would require delivery of up to 1 million new homes here by 2050. The Government welcomes this ambition. Last year, we set out a significant programme of investment in infrastructure, housing and business to support it.
Realising the ambition of 1 million homes here will require additional action from central and local partners. This action includes Government’s planning reforms, our national programmes such as the Housing Infrastructure Fund, the forthcoming national prospectus inviting proposals for locally-led new garden communities, and further work to understand the potential for housing growth across the corridor.
Government will also soon begin detailed analysis to explore potential locations for new settlements across the corridor, their alignment with transport infrastructure, and any environmental considerations.
Therefore, we now invite local authorities from across the corridor to bring forward ambitious proposals for transformational housing growth, including new settlements. Proposals should be led by the relevant local authority, working closely with partners including Local Enterprise Partnerships, universities and colleges, landowners, businesses, and others. Where appropriate, these should build on any housing deal discussions that are already underway.
They should focus on:
 Economic rationale: how new settlements will support job creation and economic
growth; any propositions involving existing or new anchor institutions or industries.
 Transport and other infrastructure: connections to existing and planned transport networks; potential for new transport schemes; requirements for other forms of infrastructure to support housing growth (healthcare, utilities, education, etc); key challenges (inc. funding and planning).
 Geography and land: understanding potential locations; availability of land including ownership and physical and legal constraints; factoring environmental considerations
into any proposals.
 Delivery: proposed scale and pace of delivery; deliverability and commercial viability.
 Partnerships: how local authorities will work together and with other key partners; the role of central government.
 Funding: how proposals could be funded, including the role of private finance.
Along with colleagues across government and corridor champion Iain Stewart MP, I want to see swift action. I know this feeling is shared across the corridor. Therefore, I would welcome your proposals by Friday 14 September. Following this, I would be keen to discuss the most ambitious proposals. My officials will be in touch to discuss this further and stand ready to support you throughout this process.
I am sending this letter to the leaders of all local authorities in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes Oford corridor, and copying it to partners including Local Enterprise Partnerships, England’s Economic Heartland, universities and colleges across the corridor.

The letter has not been published widely, only S Oxon I think which has its own agenda against the expressway has put it on the website.  Without a process of proper study and transparent consultation the opposition it builds up could lead to a populist opportunists – like Boris – in the future scrapping it.  Lets not forget the need here isnt 1 million, that’s a figure based on technical errors and 20 years old census data and boundaries, it doesn’t account for the massive expansion in the Travel to Work areas and the massive overspill needs from London.  My work suggests the need is 1.5-1.8 million by 2050 based on the Heart of England LEP boundary (excluding Swindon).

If authorities need to put togther a bid quickly here is a presentation given to a NIC seminar last November with plans for three large Garden Cities (MK scale) and many other proposals, including how 1.5 million+ homes can be built ALL accessible within walking distance of stations and BRT stops.  The big map  is here.  Numbers here. Its based on six months work. There is also Tom Holbrook’s year long work  .  It doesn’t have to be panic stations, enough work has been done to out together serious and ambitious proposals by Sept – I dont know why the deadline shouldn’t coincide with the h Oct Garden Communities submission though – still in time for the budget.



One thought on “Kit Malthouse Finally Kicks off Oxford-MK-Cambridge Project – but why hush hush?

  1. Does anyone know who the constituent authorities are? Has this been finalised by someone in Whitehall? The earlier NIC reports never concluded on this categorically.

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