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Public Inquiry needed for Oxford-Cambridge 'Growth Corridor' & 'Expressway'

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 12:58

Public Inquiry needed for Oxford-Cambridge 'Growth Corridor' & 'Expressway'

CPRE Oxfordshire is calling for a public inquiry into the Ox-Cam Growth Corridor and Expressway, so that decisions are open and transparent.

Public Inquiry needed for Oxford-Cambridge Growth Corridor & Expressway

CPRE Oxfordshire is campaiging for a public inquiry into the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Corridor and Expressway, so that decisions are open and transparent.

Both these issues are highly contentious, but the intention is nevertheless that both should be decided behind closed doors. CPRE believes it is essential that there is a statutory public consultation and Public Inquiry into both, so that at the very least justice will properly be seen to be done.

Find out more below

 

What is the Oxford-Cambridge ‘Growth Corridor’?

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has backed the concept of an Oxford to Cambridge ‘Growth Corridor’.

The Growth Corridor or ‘OxMKCam Arc’ stretching from Oxford via Milton Keynes to Cambridge is to deliver 1 million new houses and 700,000 additional jobs in the area (to justify the houses) by 2050.

Current housing stock in the 'Arc' amounts to 1.54 million, so an uplift of 1 million is an overall increase of 70%.

 

What will this mean for Oxfordshire?

• Up to 300,000 new houses for Oxfordshire or 10,000 houses per mile, ie 6 more cities the size of Oxford over the next 30 years!
• An increase in the county’s housing stock by 70%.
• And an increase in Oxfordshire’s current working age population by 40% (despite the fact that the county has almost full employment).

The public have not been consulted on the concept of the Growth Corridor! 

 

What is the ‘Expressway’?

The Department for Transport (DfT) has pledged to create an ‘Expressway’, ie a dual carriageway from Oxford to Cambridge (via Milton Keynes), as well as an east-west rail link, linking the M4 with the M11.

The Expressway is designed to support the Growth Corridor.

Work on the Expressway is due to start by 2025 (and end by 2030). The cost is estimated to be 3.5 billion; the Government has so far pledged only £27 million, the rest is to be paid by the taxpayer.
 
 
Where will the Expressway go?

The Highways Agency is to decide the route that the Expressway should take. There are three possible options:

• The first option would upgrade the A34 and junction 9 of the M40 and then run past Bicester towards Milton Keynes.
• The second would mean a new road, which would leave the A34 near Abingdon then run through 10 miles of the Green Belt south of Oxford.
• The third option would mean a new road south of Oxford, running through Thame, Haddenham and Aylesbury.

See: CPRE’s map illustrating the route options below.

A public consultation will only take place once the route has been chosen!

 

 
What is CPRE doing?

CPRE Oxfordshire is campaiging for a full statutory public consultation followed by a Public Inquiry into the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Corridor and Expressway, so that decisions are open and transparent.

We are demanding that the environmental and social costs of the Growth Corridor should be weighed against the potential economic benefits envisaged, and the routing of any Expressway, at least through Oxfordshire, be decided in the open.

Dr Peter Collins, Chairman, CPRE Oxfordshire, said:
 
“The public rightly expect such life-changing and long-lasting decisions to be made with full transparency. The Expressway and growth corridor would completely change the character of Oxfordshire and there must be absolute openness when considering how any potential economic benefits could possibly outweigh the enormous environmental damage.”
 
 
- the Oxfordshire Growth Board has called for a full public consultation into the initial assessment of the three corridors being considered between Oxford and Cambridge - a process which currently includes stakeholder engagement, but not full public consultation (see: Oxfordshire Growth Board Minutes, 30 November 2017 and below Letters from Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council to Highways England (16 January 2018) & the National Infrasructure Commission (11 January 2018); and
 
- a motion has been passed by the Oxfordshire County Council calling for a Public Inquiry into the need for the Expressway and the selection of a route and to set up a cross-party Committee to look at all aspects of the impacts of the Expressway (see: Oxfordshire County Council Minutes, 12 December 2017).
 
 

Why is a Public Inquiry necessary?
 
It is obvious, and the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council has said as much, that any decision to impose a Growth Corridor on rural Oxfordshire will be contentious to say the least; it is also obvious, as he also accepts, that any of the potential Expressway routes – including upgrading the A34 – will be environmentally harmful, albeit to varying degrees.
 
It is essential to open Government that important matters which are capable of being decided in the open, and with public involvement, should be decided in the open and not as is currently intended, behind closed doors.
 
It is also clearly the case that whilst the outcome of an open consultation and a Public Inquiry may still lead to discontent, its teeth will be largely drawn if the public can see that the decision was fact-based and open.
 
An open independent decision will also absolve authorities and elected representatives of the accusations of complicity or failure to do their duty which are already widely voiced.
 
See: CPRE’s case for a public inquiry below.
 
 
What you can do
 
Don't know who your local representatives are?  You can find out here: https://www.writetothem.com/

• Write to your local Councillor –  ask your local councillor to put pressure on the Council to demand a full statutory public consultation followed by a Public Inquiry into the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Corridor and Expressway

• Write to the Leader of your local Council – ask the Leader of your local Council to demand a full statutory public consultation followed by a Public Inquiry into the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Corridor and Expressway

• Write to your local MP – ask your local MP to put pressure on the Government to provide a full statutory public consultation followed by a Public Inquiry into the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Corridor and Expressway
 
. Write to the Secretary of State for Transport - demand a Public Inquiry into the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Corridor and Expressway - 
Rt Hon Chris Grayling, Minister for Transport
Department for Transport Great Minster House 33 Horseferry Road London SW1P 4DR
 
• Stay in touch by signing up to CPRE’s monthly e-newsletter 
 
• Follow us on Facebook / Twitter: @CPREOxfordshire

 Join CPRE 

• Donate to CPRE 
 
 

 CPRE Oxfordshire, 18 January 2018 (Updated 19 Feb 18)

Downloads:

© CPRE Oxfordshire, 20 High Street, Watlington, Oxfordshire OX49 5PY - phone 01491 612079 - email campaign@cpreoxon.org.uk 

CPRE Oxfordshire is a registered charity, number 1093081, and company limited by guarantee, registered in England, number 04443278

Registered Office: CPRE Oxfordshire, 20 High Street, Watlington, Oxfordshire OX49 5PY