Previous chancellors had long sections about planning reform in theoir speechs about planning reforms, or in the red book, or budget accompanying documents on the Arc. Not so this chancellor, but if you look in the new National Building Back Better Strategy (the levelling up and recovery strategy) you will find it.
You wont find here a clear economic rationale for ‘levelling up’ (regional policy) is it equity (which wss European regional policy priority) or unlocking unrealised productivity growth – it appears to be a bit of both.
Levelling Up: the UK government’s most important mission is to unite and level up the country, improving everyday life
for communities throughout the UK and ensuring everyone can succeed regardless of where they live. We will tackle
geographic disparities in key services and outcomes, like health, education, and jobs; we will support struggling towns so
they see social, economic and cultural regeneration; we want every region and nation of the UK to have at least one
globally competitive city, acting as hotbeds of innovation and hubs of high value activity; and we will ensure that this plan
builds on the strengths of the Union.
The Oxford-Cambridge Arc, where a Spatial Framework, developed with community engagement at its core, will
set the long-term, holistic strategy for infrastructure investment to support jobs, unlock clean growth, and achieve net zero
alongside environmental sustainability; cultivating the Arc’s potential to become a global innovation powerhouse. Earlier this
year the government confirmed funding for the next stage of East West Rail, which will connect communities and
create jobs. We are also exploring up to four development corporations along its route which can help deliver sustainable,
beautiful places to live and work for existing and future communities.
The four development corporations line was edited out of the budget speech two years ago. It was leaked in advance and never appeared. This doesn’t imply necessarily four new cities as a development corporation could cover four ARC counties along the EW rail route (Northants loses out again).
Well what is the economic rationale for the Arc, well Oxford Cambridge and MK are three globally competitive cities and should further act as ‘hotbeds of economic activity’ outside London.