According to the Government, the arching sweep of land between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge (Oxford-Cambridge Arc) has a unique
opportunity to become an economic asset of international standing – yet without urgent action, a chronic undersupply of homes could
jeopardise growth, limit access to labour and put the booming economies of the UK’s science and technology hub at risk.
The National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) central finding is that rates of house building will need to double if the Arc is to achieve its economic potential. This requires a new deal between central and local government – one which aligns public and private interests behind the delivery of significant east-west infrastructure and major new settlements, and which seeks commitment to faster growth through a joined-up plan for jobs, homes and infrastructure.
Up to 1,000,000 new homes could be built along the Oxford, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Cambridge Arc, together with a new expressway and East-West rail link to shorten journey times from East to West.
EAST-WEST INFRASTRUCTURE ENABLING NEW SETTLEMENTS
East West Rail and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway could provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to unlock land for new settlements. According to the NIC, local and national government must work together, with developers and investors, to align the delivery of infrastructure and major new settlements – including the first new towns to be built in over a generation.
EQUIPPING LOCAL AREAS WITH THE TOOLS TO DELIVER GROWTH
They say that new settlements are only part of the solution. Meeting the Arc’s future housing needs will require development in and around existing towns and cities. Local areas must be equipped to meet this challenge and to remove the barriers that frustrate privately-led development. Government should ensure local areas have the powers and resources to shape high quality, well-connected places that respect the environment, and enhance quality of life for new and existing residents.
The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway is a proposed grade-separated dual carriageway between the A34 near Oxford and the A14 near Cambridge, via (or near) Milton Keynes. The proposal aims to establish this route by linking existing roads and building new ones. The case for its creation is examined in a Strategic Study for the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor, published by National Infrastructure Commission in November 2016. The NIC sees the road as being of national strategic importance by providing an outer orbital route around London, linking Southampton, the M3, M4, A34, M40, M1, A1, A14/M11 and Felixstowe.
The route for the expressway is not agreed but to the south of Oxford it will have to go through the green belt, bringing a large amount of additional traffic to an already congested Oxford ring road and the A34 south of Oxford. That stretch of the A34 is already at capacity and has regular gridlocks. Any incident on the A34, however minor, leads to a rapid build-up of traffic, and long tailbacks result in commuters using local towns and villages as rat runs just to get out.
We have written to Ed Vaizey MP asking him to intervene on our behalf:
Dear Mr Vaizey
We are disappointed by the lack of consultation and engagement with affected communities relating to the Expressway, and the lack of clarity from Government regarding the need for the project.
We ask that, as our MP, you petition Mr Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, to abandon the Expressway project and replace it with completion and enhancement of the East/West rail link.
We believe that the Expressway will inevitably increase traffic on the A34, which is already dangerously over capacity. The A34 is very important to our residents for journeys to work and to the acute healthcare facilities in Oxford, and any increase in traffic will impact their ability to access these facilities.
Increasing traffic on the A34 has a very severe impact on Wantage as any incident on the road within the Vale appears to require diversion through our historic market town creating noise, vibration, structural damage and stress to our residents living on the diversion route. Several residents have had to vacate their homes at night in order to sleep, due to the excessive noise and vibration caused by massive lorries thundering past at very high speed. Most have very poor quality of sleep which affects their lives. Some properties sit just 1 metre from the street and have no foundations. As well as being deprived of sleep, owners have had pictures, mirrors and plaster falling off inside walls. Other homes, many built in the Victorian era, have new cracks appearing in their brickwork.
The Expressway Project will also generate up to a million new homes which will spread beyond the immediate vicinity of the route and will inevitably put more pressure on the resources and already stretched infrastructure around us leading to a worsening of shortfalls in essential services, increasing traffic congestion, pollution, and loss of valued environment.
We look forward to your action on our behalf.