The Government has announced that it will explore options for a single spatial plan for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford growth area (Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire).
This announcement formed part of the response to the NIC’s report on the area, published last November. Its first step will be to publish an “ambitious corridor-wide joint vision statement to 2050” by Spring 2019.
The Government proposes to use existing statutory powers to direct local planning authorities in the arc to undertake joint plans.
These proposals are part of the Government’s support for NIC’s ambition to build £1 million homes in the arc by 2050. It is also demonstrating support by providing £20 million of funding towards the business plan for the East-West rail link.
It also proposes a strengthened, democratically accountable arc governance structure.
These proposals raise questions as to how the proposals for arc wide governance and strategy will align with the existing local plans and planning processes, with the proposals holding the promise of a coordinated unity of approach but the risk of delay as a new joint process has to be begun. There will be strong demands for significant levels of consultation. It is recognised in the responses that the arc has significant environmental and heritage value, which many will be keen to protect and preserve in the face of substantial drive for change. It seems likely that there is controversy ahead.
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