Anthony Browne, MP for South Cambridgeshire, has welcomed the announcement of a policy paper outlining the OxCam Arc Spatial Planning Framework, an ambitious plan to unleash the economic and cultural potential of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc
The Oxford to Cambridge (OxCam) Arc is the name given to a cross-government initiative that supports planning for the future made up of the five counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, home to over 2 million jobs and provides a place to live for over 3.7 million residents. Designed to transform the Arc into one of the world’s premier growth corridors and a world-leader in sustainability, the paper was announced yesterday (Thursday 18 February) by Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher.
The spatial framework will set a plan and policies with the status of national planning policy. Based on a long-term, strategic approach to planning for growth across the area, it will help to unlock the long-term potential of the area in a sustainable way, improving the Arc as a place to live and work. It will give communities a chance to shape the long-term future of their area and will help to ensure the benefits of growth are felt across the region. With the right interventions and investment, local economic forecasts suggest that by 2050 we would see economic output doubling to over £200 billion.
The Government believes the Arc’s success is key to the UK’s national prosperity, international competitiveness, and ability to meet the challenges and opportunities we will face as a country over the next century, including climate change and supporting nature recovery, technological change, fighting COVID-19 and preventing future pandemics.
Commenting, Anthony said: "This is really welcome news, marking the start of a long-term transformative process and allowing us a glimpse of what can be achieved by combining the economic, scientific, and educational strengths of Oxford and Cambridge.
"We have seen what can be accomplished by these two powerhouses of innovation and science in the development of Covid vaccines and genomics - the OxCam Arc can build upon this to ensure that success is shared and spread across the communities between Oxford and Cambridge.
"I also welcome the focus on working in partnership with our local communities to explore what this means for them. But it is important to note this is the start of a long-term strategy for the wider region.
"There are urgent issues that must be addressed in South Cambridgeshire. It's critical that we plan for 'i before e' - infrastructure before expansion. We need to address our paradoxical problems of water shortages in the summer and flooding in the winter. We must ensure that sustainability and environmental protections are at the heart of decision-making. The Arc offers us an opportunity to find shared solutions to all of these in the pursuit of economic growth.
"I believe it is possible to support growth across the OxCam Arc without concreting over South Cambridgeshire and filling it with houses. Adjoining areas located between Oxford and Cambridge should benefit from the goals of the Arc and share in the opportunity to grow, rather than seeing it concentrated in our area, which has already experienced very high levels of development in recent years.
"I very much look forward to working closely with our local communities and national government as we start the next phase of Cambridgeshire’s extraordinary journey as an economic powerhouse."