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Column 18th August 2021

Government ambition versus a realistic vision for the Future

The District Councils across Oxfordshire are encouraging us all to participate in the consultation on the Ox-Cam Arc.

They don’t seem to be doing the same for two other consultations: Oxfordshire 2050 and the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy.

So over the next three weeks we’ll tackle each in turn.

On 20 July 2021 the government launched a public consultation on “Creating a vision for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc”.

This consultation https://placebuilder.io/futureofthearc (closing 12 October)  seeks to inform a “Vision for the Spatial Framework”.

Many of the questions are simplistic and are obviously designed to generate a positive response - "Should new developments be built in sustainable locations?”; “Should the natural environment be protected, restored and improved?” etc.

The Government ambition for the Arc is to build a better economic, social and environmental future for the area.

What it doesn’t say is that the vision includes a million new homes and everything that goes with that.

This would mean at least one new home for every two existing homes in Oxfordshire by 2050.

The Consultation also includes a Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report.

The report states that car-based transport is the primary transport mode within the Arc and that there are proposals for upgrades to the strategic road network and improvements to local transport provision including proposals for rapid transit/metro systems in Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes.

It also points out that current road traffic is the primary source of harmful emissions leading to air quality problems within the Arc and that there is limited spare capacity in electrical networks (especially as the use of electric vehicles increases) and no surplus capacity in water supply.

It does admit that climate change can have significant implications for the environmental and economic aspects of the Arc and that action will be needed to mitigate and manage the effects.

One of the questions asks us to tell them more about our vision for the Arc to 2050.

My vision is for the Government to stop focusing on areas like the Arc where house prices are already sky high, transport already congested and other infrastructure overstretched.

They should be improving the NHS, building the affordable homes we need, levelling up the rest of the country and focusing on climate change.

We are already one of the most prosperous and innovative economic areas in the country and it’s time everyone else caught up.


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