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Digital consultation launched to shape the future of the Oxford Cambridge Arc

The Business Magazine article image for: Digital consultation launched to shape the future of the Oxford Cambridge Arc
21 July 2021

People across the Oxford Cambridge Arc, and all those with an interest in the area, will have the opportunity to contribute to the long-term development of the area, as part of a new government consultation.

A new plan aims to enhance the infrastructure, environment and new developments in the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. It will be developed by government following engagement with local communities and stakeholders, and the government promises it will have sustainability at its core.

This public consultation is the first of three that will guide a new Spatial Framework over the next two years, and a digital platform has been created that will make it quick and accessible for people who live, work, and have an interest in the area to make their voices heard.

Comments received in the consultation will help create the Spatial Framework’s vision for the area to 2050, and will help guide local planning and investment decisions in four areas; the environment; the economy; connectivity and infrastructure; and place-making. Visit:

The consultation is also seeking views on the work the government has done to set the scope of the Sustainability Appraisal.

The government has also announced a new expert panel to advise on sustainable economic and housing growth in the Arc. The panel will be chaired by leading development and regeneration expert Emma Cariaga and will advise the government on issues ranging from design and sustainability to delivery and investment models.

Emma said: "The past 18 months have highlighted the importance of the quality of the places in which we live, work and enjoy ourselves. So it is great to see those opportunities to bring forward well-planned places that make the most of existing, proposed and emerging infrastructure are being properly considered.

"As a panel, we will explore a range of subjects – including design, finance models and sustainability – that will be vital for these places to get right if they are to serve present and future communities."

The panel’s primary area of focus is between Bedford and Cambridge, where the government is examining opportunities to bring forward well-designed, inclusive and sustainable places.

Other members will consist of industry leaders, local representatives and subject area experts from a range of disciplines, who will work with local government and other partners to inform the panel’s advice. The full panel will be confirmed in due course.

Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for people across the Arc to make their voice heard and help create the future for their community that they want to see."

Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris added: "The East West Rail project plays an important role in enabling connectivity within the OxCam Arc and will help us build back better from COVID-19.

"We’ve committed £760 million to the first phase of EWR which will support improved access to jobs and other opportunities in the area as well as boosting economic growth in the region more widely."


Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director, Harwell Campus Development and High-Tech Clusters, UKRI-STFC said: "The Oxford-Cambridge Arc has a unique combination of world-class scientific, technical and knowledge capabilities that can drive forward the economy, improve quality of life and benefit all the residents of the United Kingdom.

"These capabilities are crucial for attracting talent to further science and technology excellence across a number of business sectors and therefore making the UK highly competitive on a global scale. It is important that we do not squander the opportunities thus created, and that means fashioning an environment in the region where people can thrive, be engaged and deliver their best."


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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