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Spatial framework illustrates Government commitment to supercharge Oxford-Cambridge Arc

18 February 2021

Today, Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher has set out how Government will work with local partners to create an ambitious plan to transform the Oxford-Cambridge Arc into one of the world’s premier growth corridors and a world-leader in sustainability.

The Spatial Framework will set a long-term, strategic approach to planning for growth across the Arc. It will help to unlock the potential of the area in a sustainable way. It will help to create thousands of jobs, drive investment, protect and enhance the environment, and provide the infrastructure and beautiful new places needed to make the area an even greater place to live and work. The plan and policies will have the status of national planning policy.


The results, due to be published in 2022, will give communities a chance to shape the long-term future of their local area and will help to ensure the benefits of growth are felt across the region.


The policy paper published today sets out the approach Government intends to take, including:
• a timeline for developing the Framework,
• how Government will engage communities and work with local partners, and
• the high-level scope of the Framework, including the approach it will take to planning for the environment, infrastructure, economic growth, and new homes and place-making.

The Government has also announced its intention to establish an Arc Growth Body to promote the Arc internationally.

To realise the full potential of local economies and the Arc as a whole, the Government is also considering how further investment could create jobs, support the delivery of more homes, and support local economic growth.

Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said:
“The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is already home to world-leading economic, cultural and scientific assets.”

“We know for instance Cambridge’s rate of patent applications – a key indicator of innovation – is the highest in the United Kingdom, while nearby Milton Keynes is the fastest growing city in the country. “

“We want to take this region to the next phase of its renaissance by unlocking its full potential and our plans will drive investment where it is needed and ensure, as growth happens, we create well-designed, inclusive and vibrant places and communities.”

“The OxCam Spatial Framework will allow us to plan positively for growth and we look forward to working with our local partners over the coming months to strengthen our vision and approach to the Arc.”

Peter Horrocks CBE, SEMLEP’s Chair responds to today’s announcement, “back in 2019 we talked about how a grand deal for the Arc could be to return land to wildlife in a way that also frames and complements new homes and workplaces. This was the start of the ‘Green Arc’ conversation. And whilst the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for businesses and individuals alike, it has brought about a much greater appreciation of our local places, of nature. It has also accelerated the uptake of new ways of working and doing business that we can learn from and build on.


“We know that sustainability and productivity go hand in hand. Our area is fast growing and we need to update our infrastructure to support that. This is an opportunity to connect this region’s innovation and capabilities to create green, skilled jobs, work towards decarbonising our economies and improve the environment at the same time. Developing this framework brings opportunity to set higher ambitions and higher standards for growth, backed firmly by Government. We look forward to working closely with local businesses, partners and communities so they have their say in planning and investing in sustainable growth for our area.”


Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive SEMLEP said, “we have worked well with Government and colleagues across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc to show exactly why this area is the UK’s primary innovation region. Our track record in commercialising technologies, our strong entrepreneurial culture and the highly attractive offer of our local towns and rural areas all contribute to economic success, enhancing people’s livelihoods, and resetting the economy.


“A spatial framework for the region, alongside a new ‘growth body’, will enable us to better identify and implement strategic infrastructure projects that are needed to support our sustainable growth ambitions. It will position the Arc firmly on an international platform and will give greater confidence and opportunity for investment.”


The Arc contains a vibrant natural environment and a rich cultural heritage, and it is home to some of the country’s fastest growing and most innovative places.


The Arc’s success is key to the United Kingdom’s national prosperity, international competitiveness, and ability to meet the challenges and opportunities the country will face over the next century, including climate change and supporting nature recovery, technological change, fighting COVID-19 and preventing future pandemics.

The Arc, which is made up of five ceremonial counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire is home to over 2 million jobs and provides a place to live for over 3.7 million residents.

For more information on the OxCam Arc and the spatial framework, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/planning-for-sustainable-growth-in-the-oxford-cambridge-arc-spatial-framework 

In the Autumn 2020, the Arc Leadership Group published an Economic Prospectus for the Arc. Download this Prospectus here: https://www.semlep.com/oxford-cambridge-arc/

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