Whitehall insiders said a more detailed policy document would appear in the coming weeks, but they added that failure to include planning reforms in the investment zones package would limit their overall impact. Initial plans discussed by Truss’s policy team envisaged the revival of programmes such as the 2017 Oxford-Cambridge Arc, which envisaged building 1mn extra homes as part of plans to capitalise on the boom in life sciences. The project, which sought to rebuild the “varsity” railway between Oxford and Cambridge universities, was shelved [not shelved just Gove wanted local councils to lead – which they didnt because they didnt want housebuilding – so allowed to lapse rather, and with it the rail investment made no business sense] under Boris Johnson because of local objections to housebuilding and a decision to focus on the “levelling up” agenda in the north. Whitehall insiders said the radical nature of the investment zones had been “overhyped” in terms of the scale of ambition. “We’ve gone from the OxCam Arc to an industrial estate in Cornwall,” said one.
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