East West rail link and Oxford Cambridge Expressway should support one million new homes and jobs says Lord Adonis
It's part of National Infrastructure Commission plans to boost the area's economic ontribution by over £160billion a year.
The National Infrastructure Commission has today highlighted the importance of creating well-designed, well-connected new communities between Oxford and Cambridge, with plans to deliver one million new homes and jobs in the area by 2050.
A report published today (Friday November 17, 2017) claims this can be done while respecting the natural environment and without making changes to existing Green Belt protections.
The move, equivalent to a doubling of the current rate of housebuilding, would be supported by improved road and rail links between the major cities, helping to create the first new towns in this country for 50 years, under seven key recommendations from the NIC.
Lord Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “The arc spanning Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford attracts the brightest and best from some of the most cutting edge industries.
“But the area also suffers from a lack of available homes and an infrastructure network that is feeling the strain – pricing local people out of the market, making it difficult for businesses to recruit staff, and threatening the future competitiveness of one of the most successful parts of the country.
“A ground-breaking deal between ministers and local leaders could transform the area, helping to double the rate of housebuilding and deliver the first new towns this country has seen for half a century. With this one of the most economically important parts of the UK, it could add billions of pounds a year to the national economy.
“I urge local leaders to seize this opportunity and work together with Government, both for the benefit of their residents and of the country as a whole – all by delivering a million new homes and jobs by 2050, investing in improved road and rail links and protecting the area’s natural environment.”
Currently the area generates £90billion per year towards the national economy. But by taking these steps this could increase to over £250billion a year.
Key transport projects that Lord Adonis says need to move forward include the new East-West Rail line connecting Oxford and Cambridge, and the proposed Oxford-Cambridge Expressway.
The chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission urged Ministers, and council leaders across the arc covering Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Northampton and Cambridge, to “seize the opportunity” and harness the area’s economic potential.
Cambridge City Council leader Lewis Herbert has welcomed the proposals.
He said: “This major investment in rail is both welcome and overdue, and we ask the Chancellor to support all the key NIC recommendations in his Budget next Wednesday, to deliver the vital new Cambridge South station by 2022 latest and the full East West rail route from Cambridge to Milton Keynes and Oxford by 2030, as a major boost to making our growth sustainable and shifting transport from road to rail.
“On Cambridge South, we will be working with the mayor, the Greater Cambridge Partnership and Government to try to beat the 2022 deadline, provided Government confirms funding next week to match planned private investment and local funding contributions.
“Timing depends on the scale of four track and best design to maximise stopping trains and we want to get it right, and earlier than 2022 if we possibly can.
“On East West Rail, the crunch issue is the missing link from Sandy to Cambridge and we call on Government to commit to making a firm and final route by the end of 2019.
“Currently, the four options detailed in the NIC report are causing major uncertainty and risk totally confusing major future strategic planning across Cambridgeshire and beyond, as well as raising avoidable and unnecessary concerns among many local rural communities.”
The mayor of the Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer, welcomed the report - and said it could have gone even further.