It confused everyone – in what order are things happening – locally led or national/regional study led? To be fair hes picking up on a predecessor who did nothing for six months on this issue, and got promoted for it.
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.
This will require a step change in housing provision from the figures in current and emerging local plans which cover a 15 year horizon, and emerging joint strategic plans, which are looking to determine housing and growth allocations on a 20 year horizon. As new settlements will take many years to build it is reasonable to look over a 30-35 year horizon. The figure of 1 million homes to 2050 in the NIC report was based on information available at the time and housing market areas/travel to work areas derived from the 2001 census. It included an element of housing to meet the needs of land constrained areas such as London. We will keep this figure under review according to the latest information and the new standard national method for determining objectively assessed need, to be set out in the autumn based on the latest population and household projections and the governments policy of meeting a target of 300,000 net new dwellings by the mid 2020s. We will also keep under review the likely needs from land constrained areas in the light of the findings of the London Plan review EIP panel. This letter has been sent to the authorities included in the housing calculations in the NIC report, however in the light of the emergent consensus on the geography of the corridor through the forming of the England’s Economic Heartland Economic Alliance, and the discussion on a two unitary model in Northamptonshire I am also writing to these authorities on their growth plans. The housing in these wider areas will be additional to the 1 million figure. Realising the ambition of 1 million homes here will require additional action from central and local partners. It is important that local, strategic and national bodies work in step and in parallel. 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. We want this work to be carried out with maximum local input and involvement and so are looking for the initial views from local authorities and partnerships on where the best candidates for strategic growth locations should be. It may be appropriate to set down options, with initial assessment of the main pros and cons of each. We appreciate these assessments will be preliminary and may be affected by final choices on projects such as the Oxford-Cambridge expressway. Such initial assessments will be prospectuses for areas for future study on feasibility and deliverability, and like areas proposed within the framework of the Garden Communities prospectus the announcements of government assistance does not in any way pre-judge the planning process, nor fetter the Secretary of State’s or local discretion in relation to statutory decisions such as the designation of a new town.
Therefore, we now invite local authorities from across the corridor to bring forward ambitious [proposals] prospectuses for transformational housing growth, including new settlements. [Proposals] Prospectuses should be led by the relevant local authority and/or joint partnership, working closely with partners including Local Enterprise Partnerships, universities and colleges, infrastructure providers and transport agencies and operators, 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, and the potential for land value capture
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] 9th October to avoid double submissions for the Garden Communities prospectus. Following this, I would be keen to discuss the most ambitious and deliverable proposals, and how the governments strategic analysis and emerging joint strategic plans to be aligned. We expect early progress on joint strategic arrangements in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. The risk is that unless such arrangements are rapidly concluded they could lose out on future funding. My officials will be in touch to discuss this further and stand ready to support you throughout this process.
I am also [sending this letter to the leaders of all local authorities in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes OXford corridor, and] copying [it] this letter to partners including Local Enterprise Partnerships, England’s Economic Heartland, universities and colleges across the corridor.