Government is So Serious About CaMKOx it put its vision on the Dark Web @kitmalthouse @iainastewart @GeorgeMonbiot

Many of us were waiting so long for the announcement of the government vision/next steps strategy for CAMKOX  we wondered if we would be waiting forever.  After all Sajid Javid announced in March that there would be plan announced for 2-5 New Towns within ‘4-6 weeks’ ,

In fact the government had already published a vision (of sorts) for the corridor here.  though as someone who has followed very blink of news on the corridor I was surprised that has already on 22nd Nov on Budget day.    I was surprised when the always 100% thorough Simon Ricketts published a link to it.    indeed I was so surprised I used the web analytics service MoxZPRO which showed that there are no links outside the .gov domain.  There were no links in the red book. 

It is in the same typeface as the red book and looks for the world like a chapter which was edited out – not a good decision.

It was published in a list of budget day documents out of 71 published deep in page 2.  No links on The MHLG website.  Nobody noticed no body linked to it.  There was again a link in the deeply obscure document in December announcing Iain Stewart MP as corridor champion.  He published a link on his own website but presumably as it has so few visitors it did not show up on any analytics service,  so I did not know he was the champion. He needs better PR,

No local authority or LEP desperate for news on the corridor as they are published a link on their website.

So what do the document say?  Much of it just summarized the NIC report and repeated the red book and budget speech but it did say a couple of important things.

The government is also inviting local partners within the corridor to work with it on agreeing a more detailed, ambitious corridor-wide vision in 2018.

Ah right so that was the letter written then to all the local authorities which the government forgot to send instead sending it 9 months later when the oncoming minister realised that his predecessors had forgotten to send it.

The government is..inviting local partners within the corridor to work with it on agreeing a more detailed, ambitious. corridor-wide vision in 2018. The government invites local partners to work with it through 2018 to agree a long term vision for the whole corridor up to 2050. This will set out how jobs, homes and infrastructure across the corridor will be planned together to benefit existing and new residents, while balancing economic growth with the protection and enhancement of the area’s historic and environmental assets.
The government believes this long-term vision should be underpinned by a series of joint statutory plans across the corridor which would deliver the vision through the planning system.
As a first step, Oxfordshire has agreed, through its housing deal with government, to bring forward for adoption a joint statutory plan across the whole county. The government urges other areas in the corridor to propose how they will work together with a view to adopting a small number of joint statutory plans at the earliest opportunity to ensure that planning for business and housing is coordinated with the delivery of strategic and local infrastructure.

By what date to commission what studies?  Was there a deadline?  The lack of communication here is evidenced by the total lack of agreement on joint planning in Bucks, North Herts, Beds, and the bunfight between authorities and the combined authority Mayor in Cambridgeshire, as well as two Oxfordshire Districts vetoing every major additional growth proposal in Oxofordshire which involves them on a sustainable site- in their backyard.

As a starting point, the government expects authorities and delivery bodies in the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor to use existing mechanisms of land value capture,and the potential new mechanisms announced at Autumn Budget 2017 (subject to\consultation) to capture rising land values from the additional public investment in a fair way,having regard to the announcements made at Budget 2017.

Same as everywhere else.

As the NIC has recommended, the government will also consider opportunities for one or more major new settlements in the corridor. It will do so by bringing together public and privatecapital to build new locally-proposed garden towns, using appropriate delivery vehicles such as development corporations. The government will work closely with the Homes and Communities Agency and local partners to explore such opportunities further.

What work – who is expected to make the first move? How are regional studies and local initiatives work together?  Who is expected to take the lead.  If it is a central -local partnership what partnership, what announcements?  Nothing heard for 9 months.

This area is already amongst the most economically successful in the UK. The government wants to build on that success for the benefit of the whole of the nation. It is therefore right that the private sector should play a significant part in delivering this vision, through both direct investment and the reinvestment of land value increases created by strategic infrastructure, for the benefit of local communities. This represents an important announcement intended to have a wide-ranging effect on the delivery of the proposals, and those in the land market should take note.

The most important part,  Don’t inflate land values as you should expect to pay strategic infrastructure.  But because of Brexit we don’t have time to introduce a formal system so please read this buried document linked to by no one and take note.  Look what impact it has had on land values and viability studies!

There are various definitions for the dark web, such as no links form the web and no links from outside your own website.  This certainly fits into the latter.  No communications strategy, no press release, no website, no letter.

The government offered no money for studies and expected every one else to do the work.  No leadership, no direction, no money. Iain Stewart MP seems to have not lifted a finger, im sure he has had a lot of lunches but that is not communication.

As such the whole lackadaisical approach to the most important growth corridor in Europe has imperiled the whole project.  It now has months to finalise the vision and has not commissioned ANY new technical studies or signed ANY partnership agreement or MOU with the affected LEPS, Counties or LPAs.  It expects the corridor to sprout like magic.

Its just like the Thames Gateway, a project only recently back on track after 20 years of failure, a supposed growth area where the local plans actually met only a fraction on need effectively an anti-growth area (just like CaMKOx) no regional transport study or strategy (just like CaMKOx) a byzantine governance structure (just like CaMKOx)  expecting it all to be funded by land value capture without a simple mechanism to do so (just like CaMKOx), no communication strategy (just like CaMKOx) , no PMO (just like CaMKOx) , no clear milestones or targets (just like CaMKOx) no dedicated budget (just like CaMKOx), no institutional memory or learning (just like CaMKOx), failure leading to recriminations and risk a bored short attention span prime minister will just scrap it as a pet project (just like CaMKOx).

The MHCLG select committee needs to get involved.