Is the Oxford to Cambridge Arc Dead?


1st March 2022

Government plans for the OxCam Arc appear to have been flattened, apparently leaving local authorities to decide whether to pursue any of the identified proposals. While CPRE Oxfordshire has asked local MPs to confirm what IS happening with Arc plans, the Countryside Charity is also seeking assurance from local councils that the notional Arc housing figures won’t be embedded in Plans currently under development.

Helen Marshall, Director of CPRE Oxfordshire says:
“This year will be a critical year for Oxfordshire’s future and the protection of our countryside and rural character. CPRE Oxfordshire is concerned that local authorities will be tempted to incorporate the Arc’s theoretical growth targets into emerging Oxfordshire Plans. There must be no Arc by Stealth – a piecemeal plan to deliver the proposed Arc development and infrastructure while avoiding wholesale consultation and scrutiny.”

The Levelling Up White Paper published in early February made no mention of the OxCam Arc. The Arc isn’t compatible with Levelling up and the Paper rightly justifies investment in other of the areas of the country.

Anthony Browne, Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire “I am glad the OxCam Arc appears nowhere in the levelling up White Paper and is no longer a government priority.” (Cambridge Independent 13/02/22)

What should our local authorities do next?

CPRE Oxfordshire would like to see the Arc Spatial Framework buried and local authorities focused on local strategic planning with decision-making locally accountable via elected representatives. Plan-making should focus on the big challenges: climate action, nature recovery and truly affordable housing.

As the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan moves into its final stages, the decision on which growth option to utilise must be based on the county’s environmental and social constraints, the demands of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the needs and wishes of local people, not notional OxCam Arc targets.

Similarly, Local Plans, the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy and the Oxfordshire Local Transport & Connectivity Plan 5 must remain driven by the above considerations.