Seven recommendations from NIC report to boost Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford economy by more than £160bn
The NIC calls for progress on East West rail for Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford, along with an Expressway, new homes and jobs.
The National Infrastucture Commission has called for progress on an East West rail link for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford arc, the development of an Cambridge-Oxford Expressway to cut down journey times for motorists, credible city centre transport strategies and integrated strategic plans for infrastructure, new housing and jobs.
The NIC wants to deliver one million new homes and jobs by 2050, with the development of new towns, and says the corridor’s contribution to the UK economy could rocket from £90billion per year to more than £250billion a year, a move welcomed by the mayor of the Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer.
To achieve this, the NIC makes key recommendations in its report. They are:
Recommendation 1: Develop an integrated strategic plan for infrastucture, housing and jobs
Local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, government departments and national delivery agencies, should work together to develop an integrated strategic plan for infrastructure, housing and jobs across the corridor.
The plan should provide a framework for cross-corridor economic and transport strategies and for strategic spatial plans which, when combined, enable a step-change in housing provision and connectivity.
The plan should also ensure that options for funding infrastructure are fully integrated into the strategy.
Recommendation 2: Quality of infrastructure must be central to plans
The quality of infrastructure design and its impact on maintaining and enhancing the character of the built environment should be central to any strategic plan for the area.
As part of the next stage of its work, the Commission will continue to work with urban planners and the design community to understand how infrastructure can enable new and expanded settlements which incorporate the highest standards of design and place making.
Recommendation 3: Joint governance arrangements can deliver co-ordinated plans
Local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, government departments and national delivery agencies, should work together to develop proposals for the joint governance arrangements required to deliver co-ordinated planning.
This work should build on and strengthen existing cross-corridor collaborations and should consider the potential for formal joint governance mechanisms (eg joint committees, combined authorities, sub-national transport bodies, or the creation of unitary authorities). These should include consideration of future devolved powers, freedoms and financial flexibilities.
The work should also consider the full range of delivery mechanisms capable of accelerating housing growth, including looking at the potential for new development corporations to accelerate and drive delivery.
Recommendation 4: Deliver Western section of East West Rail project before 2024
The government should commit to delivering the Western Section of the East West Rail project before 2024 (the end of the rail industry’s Control Period 6).
To achieve this, the government should bring forward £100m in funding to accelerate design and development, and commit construction monies as necessary to: - avoid abortive cost (subject to the development process demonstrating rigorous disciplines in planning, cost management and value management); and - integrate construction of the East West Rail Western Section with work on HS2.
To fully maximise the benefits of the project local authorities should recognise the potentially transformational benefits of East West Rail and develop and agree, working with national government, an ambitious strategy for housing development and delivery around stations and station towns.
Recommendation 5: £10m funding needed for work on Central section of East West Rail link
The government should commit up to £10m in development funding to continue work on the Central Section of the East West Rail link.
Government should provide clear guidance that a core objective for the development of this scheme should be to support the provision of new housing and connect it to local and regional labour markets.
Local partners and national government should work together to develop a plan for the Central Section which links development work on the East West Rail Central Section to options for local housing development.
Government should explore the potential for alternative delivery and financing mechanisms for the railway. This should include consideration of how third party contributions could be leveraged.
Recommendation 6: Fund development of Oxford-Cambridge Expressway
The government should commit £27m to the end of 2018/19 to fund the next phase of development work on the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway study, allowing the detailed design process to begin as soon as possible.
Highways England should work with relevant local authorities to develop and assess the potential Expressway options and develop a proposal which maximises the scheme’s potential to unlock housing growth and connect it to local and regional labour markets, alongside delivering wider benefits.
Recommendation 7: Develop credible city centre transport strategies
In order to maximise the benefits of new strategic infrastructure and to ensure that urban centres across the corridor continue to function effectively - local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, government departments and national delivery agencies, should work together in each centre to define a set of credible, coherent and co-owned city centre transport strategies.
These strategies may build on existing plans, but also ensure that national and regional level schemes are properly integrated into local thinking.
These strategies should be consistent with partners’ wider work to develop a plan for the corridor that maximises its potential to support housing growth.
This should include realistic proposals on funding and financing and any consideration of any devolved powers, freedoms or financial flexibilities.
The commission said it will support all these processes as part of the second phase of the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford study.