In March 2016, the National Infrastructure Commission was asked to consider how to maximise the potential of the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor as a single, knowledge-intensive cluster that competes on a global stage, protecting the area’s high quality environment, and securing the homes and jobs that the area needs. The interim findings came out in November 2016 and the final report was published in November 2017.

In Partnering for Prosperity: a new deal for the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford Arc the Commission identifies opportunities to create well-designed, well-connected new communities and deliver one million new homes and jobs in the area by 2050, while respecting the natural environment and without making changes to existing Green Belt protections. Doing so would help create vibrant new towns, including the first new towns in the UK for 50 years.

Central to achieving this vision are completion of the new East-West Rail line connecting Oxford and Cambridge by 2030 and accelerating the development and construction of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway. In the short term, new rail services to Cowley in South East Oxford by 2019 and the opening of a new station at South Cambridge by 2022 are also proposed alongside long-term local transport plans for other key towns and cities in the arc.

The report calls for a new deal on infrastructure and housing between local authorities in the arc and central Government, including:

  • New powers giving councils greater certainty over future investments, and allowing them to fund and raise finance for major infrastructure improvements that deliver new homes
  • A jointly agreed plan for new and expanded housing settlements, supported by New Town Development Corporations and new infrastructure design panels
  • New statutory spatial plans and investment strategies for each sub-region should be developed, as part of a 50-year vision for the arc as a whole