WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 31st May 2023

ARC development plans

Oxfordshire is part of the Oxford – Cambridge Arc where, in 2017, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) called for a million new homes to be built in what it called the ‘OxCam Arc’ by 2050 to maximise its economic potential.

This was part of a draft vision for a national economic priority area, “with potential to become one of the most prosperous, innovative and sustainable economies in the world”.

This was before the public consultation in 2021 - the results of which have still not been published.

Yet at the start of this year, the levelling up secretary Michael Gove approved the proposals to set up a locally led body – the Oxford to Cambridge Pan Regional Partnership (leaders from local
councils, local enterprise partnerships, the Arc Universities Group and the area’s
transport body, England’s Economic Heartland) – to drive growth and attract investment to the area with initial government funding of up to £2.5 million.

By coincidence, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) is updating the Strategic Economic Plan for Oxfordshire and by July, a final draft plan will be ready for sign off in September 2023.

OxLEP will be seeking the endorsement of the Plan through the Future Oxfordshire Partnership (which is made up of the Leaders of the county, district and city councils) and expects support from Oxfordshire’s Local Authorities in aligning their Local Plans with the Strategic Economic Plan.

So this may be used (in the same way as it was last time) to justify the supposed need for thousands more homes across Oxfordshire as well as throughout the arc around Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.

The new local plan being developed by the District Council covers both the Vale and South Oxfordshire which includes part of the M40 and plans for a new Thames Crossing south of Oxford.

Many more homes will be required in the Local Plan and, as much of South Oxfordshire is in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and most of the rest is part of the Oxford Green Belt, we in OX12 will be the dumping ground again.

Unless the Government finally publishes the proposed changes to the planning laws and does remove the duty to co-operate with neighbouring Councils, we will also be forced to build homes for Oxford City.

Will we be merging East Challow and Hanney to Wantage and Grove, or building further along the A417 to East Hendred in the next Local Plan?

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