The Oxford-Cambridge Arc: government ambition and joint declaration between government and local partners

MHCLG

29 pages not insubstantial but not yet a spatial plan. I dont think it was mentioned in Hammond’s Speech as it didnt include a housing number, he likes those

Joint Declaration of Ambition between
Government and the Arc
This joint declaration has been agreed between the Government, local authorities across the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, the Arc’s four local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), and England’s Economic Heartland.
We, the parties mentioned above, recognise that the area incorporating the ceremonial county areas of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire forms a strategic belt, which we refer to as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc (‘the Arc’). We also acknowledge the vital links beyond the Arc: for example, there are important relationships with the Midlands, with the M4 corridor and Heathrow Airport, with London and the Greater South East, and with the rest of East Anglia.

We recognise that the Arc is first and foremost an area of significant economic strength and opportunity, which can further benefit its existing and future communities and businesses by realising its potential. It has a population of over 3 million and a Gross Value Added over £100 billion per year. Building upon strengths in individual parts of the Arc, especially in science, technology and high-value manufacturing, there is the long-term potential to transform the Arc as a whole into a world-leading economic area, acting as a testbed for innovation. Because of this potential, the Government has already designated the Arc a key economic priority. We jointly set out to meet its full economic potential, building on forthcoming Local Industrial Strategies, for the benefit of existing and future local communities and businesses, and in the national interest.
We acknowledge that meeting this economic potential will demand our collective
determination, over the long-term, to deliver significantly more homes in the Arc, of the right quality and in the right places to meet its needs. We recognise that this could include the development and expansion of existing, as well as new, settlements. This will be needed both to address the housing affordability issues already felt in many parts of the Arc, and to provide places to live for future communities attracted by the Arc’s economic opportunities.
We know that meeting our long-term economic and housing delivery ambitions for the Arc will require long-term commitments to provide the enabling infrastructure, in the widest sense, that communities and business will need. We support the delivery of transport links such as East West Rail and improvements to the strategically important roads network, and remain committed to involving local communities and businesses in helping to decide where and how infrastructure is built. We recognise the need to plan for and deliver substantial additional infrastructure ahead of the arrival of new communities, including necessary transport infrastructure, utilities, digital connectivity, health and education.
Crucially, we value the natural environment highly, and aim to meet our economic and housing ambitions while overall improving, rather than degrading, the environment in the Arc. We want better places to live, which are beautiful and inspiring, to benefit the Arc’s residents today as well as tomorrow. The Government has already set out its intention for the Arc to embody England’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which we will work together to deliver, including through planning for local natural capital. We want new developments to
use intelligent and sensitive design to create or enhance habitats and improve habitat connectivity, in situ and in the surrounding area. We also want to improve access to the environment for existing and new communities in order to improve health and wellbeing.
We recognise that meeting all these ambitions for the Arc requires us to take a long-term view, at least to 2050, and for us to work collaboratively across geographical, political andthematic boundaries. Doing so will require open thinking and dialogue without harming the ongoing plan-making process. While extant local development plans and joint plans must evidently retain their integrity whilst they are in place, we will consider what planning approaches and flexibilities may be appropriate in future, within and across the Arc, to better support meeting our overall ambitions. This could include considering the role of a
spatial vision or strategy for the Arc as a whole, as well as the most suitable delivery vehicles for specific developments. We recognise that resources would need to be available for this work.
We agree that a collaborative approach to meeting our ambitions also means changing the way we work, as organisations and collectively. The Government has established a crosscutting portfolio and delivery team for the Arc, bringing together departments, agencies and projects, with common high-level reporting lines at a ministerial and departmental
level. Local authorities and LEPs have established Arc-wide coordination groups both for council leaders and LEP chairs, and for council and LEP chief executive officers.
England’s Economic Heartland provides a single local voice for strategic infrastructure across the Arc and beyond its boundaries. Both within Government and locally, we have organised our work relevant to the Arc across four thematic areas, reflecting our ambitions set out in this joint declaration:
• Productivity – ensuring we support businesses to maximise the Arc’s economic
prosperity, including through the skills needed to enable communities to benefit from the jobs created;
• Place-making – creating places valued by local communities, including through the
delivery of sufficient, affordable and high-quality homes, to increase affordability and support growth in the Arc, as well as wider services including health and education;
• Connectivity – delivering the infrastructure communities need, including transport and digital connectivity, as well as utilities;
• Environment – ensuring we meet our ambitions for growth while leaving the
environment in a better state for future generations.
To act as a bridge between Government and the Arc itself, the Government has committed to establishing a joint Advisory Group comprising experts and leaders across these themes, led by an independent Business Chair. Their role will not only be to provide expertise, but to be a figurehead for the Arc nationally and internationally, galvanising the necessary leadership and support to help realise our ambitions across these four thematic areas.
Our ambitions for the Arc are long-term, and while we believe it is right to maintain pace of delivery on existing commitments such as East West Rail, we recognise the need to plan to meet our full ambitions for the Arc in an integrated and inclusive way. As a next step, we are therefore going to launch a broad, joint, public engagement exercise over Summer 2019. This will engage with the public across the four themes above and will be used to help inform our future plans for the Arc and ensure they benefit existing and new communities and businesses.

Most of the copy is similar to the Budget policy statement.  Three things are new.  Firstly it is the first joint political statement including by the local authorities for ‘significantly more new homes’ though not yet stating how many

The second new element is the committment to a summer of engagement in 2019.   Though I suspect that without clarity over route options, strategic growth potential locations etc. it will simply become a summer of blight and fear.

The third is a committment of several million pounds towards nautural capital planning, though this will be of limited value until it can be integrated with planning of places.

It reveals 100 Garden Community bids were received for’ 523,000 homes, of which a
number are within the Arc;’  though I myself made a bid for 250,000 homes on one site as an example of the 5 or so settlements that would be needed to meet the housing needs of teh area plus inevitable overspill from land constrained areas (such as London) which illustrates the gap that needs to be filled.

On next steps it states:

• Complete the analysis into new or expanded settlements and consider where
economic and housing growth, including through locally-led plans, could maximise
the benefits of new road and rail infrastructure;
• Consider how the design of new settlements can support the Industrial Strategy
Grand Challenges, through the demonstration and deployment of new technologies;
• Complete underway assessments on Garden Communities bids, and announce
successful proposals in spring 2019;
• Work with the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission to gather evidence on design and quality place-making in order to identify opportunities to promote
improved design quality and greater community consent; the Commission will
publish an interim research report by July 2019;
• Work with local authorities to consider what planning approaches and flexibilities
may be appropriate to better support planning and increased housing supply over
the long-term.

The first point being the completion of the AECOm work.

2 thoughts on “The Oxford-Cambridge Arc: government ambition and joint declaration between government and local partners

  1. Whatever its shortcoming, at least the declaration does clearly define the political geography of the Arc for the first time. That’s an important step forwards.

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