Consultation on Vision for Ox-Cam Arc Launched

Almost no press from MCHLG – focus was on Beauty yesterday



The Spatial Framework will form national planning policy and transport policy for the Arc and
local planning and local transport authorities must have regard to it when preparing local transport and local development plans and policies, and it will be capable of being a material consideration in
relevant planning decisions in the area.


We are undertaking a fully integrated Sustainability Appraisal (SA), incorporating a strategic environmental assessment for the purposes of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes
Regulations 2004 (commonly referred to as the Strategic Environmental Assessment Regulations 2004 or “SEA Regulations”). The Sustainability Appraisal will also be informed by other statutory
assessments and regimes such as a habitats regulations assessment pursuant to the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. As part of this consultation, we are seeking views on the initial work we have done to set the scope of the Sustainability Appraisal

The Framework will

At a strategic scale, this will coordinate and focus investment in the area
and shape future local planning decisions on:
• how land is used;
• how the environment is protected and enhanced;
• where and what type of new development happens; and
• what infrastructure is provided.

We believe that the Spatial Framework will allow us to plan for growth in a way that:
• makes the area a better place to live and work for all;
• leaves a long-term legacy by protecting and enhancing the Arc’s built and natural
environment and beautiful places; and
• helps combat and build resilience to climate change.

Note this is pretty weak, where is the commitment to net zero?

There is no section on what the national policy on the Arc is – other than saying:

The government wants to support sustainable economic growth in the OxfordCambridge Arc, so we are developing a Spatial Framework to plan for that growth – to 2050 and beyond

And referencing the Feb 21 policy document, which falls between the stools of not explaining the ambition and making it seem predetermined, by not ask9ing a question on the vision and priority.

in March 2021, we held a short series of initial workshops and conversations with a
small sample of local residents, young people, academic experts, businesses, charities,
campaign groups and local councils that allowed us to test our approach to engagement
in advance of this consultation. We hope to publish a summary of the feedback from this
early engagement in the near future for your information


many found the language and terminology used, such as planning policy, a barrier. We have taken this feedback on board and reflected it in the approach and design of this consultation.

Sigh I remember how Tony Blair insisted plans be called ‘frameworks’ because people found the term plan hostile. Similar inanity. How is replacing ‘planning policy’ with ‘framework’ any different? The problem is governments have not talked positively about planning for a generation, and as a result public discourse has resulted in limbic responses like ‘developers= evil=’concreting over the countryside’/ If we are have to have a proper civic discourse on the ‘original moral purpose of planning’ as Chris Pincher said we have to start talking about planning.

The sections on Natural Improvement and Economy are interesting. The section on research institutions has an error, the Greater Cambridge Area has many pure and practical research instutions that arnt connected to universities, but to charities, trusts and companies.

The section on new development is very odd for a strategic planning document, talking about how areas around new developments are designed not about the location of new developments and their linkage to strategic transport investments.

There is a section on place making but not directly on housing or the relationship between employment targets and housing targets.

We have committed to doing this by using the Spatial Framework, supported by the Sustainability
Appraisal, to identify:
the most sustainable locations for new homes, including identifying Opportunity
, to support local planning authorities to plan for this growth;
• the infrastructure – such as transport, health and education facilities, utilities and digital – needed to support sustainable growth in those locations, and the key locations for strategic infrastructure; and
• locations to protect and improve the environmental as part of sustainable growth
and development.

We will also seek to set policies to enable:
• new development to come forward at the scale and speed needed, in
sustainable locations, with a focus on brownfield redevelopment;
• new development to support the recovery of nature, new green space that can
be accessed by all, resilience to climate change, and protection of highly valued
existing green space; and
housing needs to be met in full, including much-needed affordable housing

Now if the framework is not setting housing targets how will we know how many opportunity areas it needs. Lets take some good example Grove, North Cambourne and Clavert is this to be a couple of thousand new houses as per existing local plan or a New City of 200,000? How do you SEA something woolly without numbers? What is to stop the ‘slowth’ authorities in the arc planning for as little as possible in opportunity areas and then boxing in and preventing their expansion with new nature based solutions areas preventing growth beyond the first (inadequte) plan period and level of growth? This is why a woolly framework avoiding the elephant in the room is no substitute for a good strategic plan.

in parallel to the development of the Spatial Framework, the government is also exploring options to speed up new housing and infrastructure development in the Arc to help meet its ambitions, where evidence supports it. This includes examining (and where appropriate, developing) the case for new and/or expanded settlements in the Arc,
including options informed by possible East West Rail stations between Bedford and Cambridge and growth options at Cambridge itself. The government will undertake additional Arc consultations on any specific proposals for such options as appropriate.

Interesting not only the central section of east west Rail, Cambridge is mentioned because it has developed options, but so has MK, so why not MK? Why is Mk always left out? Of course Bucks, Northants and Oxon have not. So how will strategic options be developed and consulted on here?

Note there is a strong reference to a government statement of Feb2019 stating the government’s AMBITION for 1/2 million new homes by 2050. This has never been withdrawn. Not Chris Pinchers parliamentary statements have said there is not target, there never was, its an ambition and as far as I can see it remains the government’s ambition.

Note in the delivery section there is mention of a single Arc Delivery body again but not a single mention of development corporations.