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.
In November 2016 the Commission published its interim findings.
The Commission’s central finding: A lack of sufficient and suitable housing presents a fundamental risk to the success of this area. Without a joined-up plan for housing, jobs and infrastructure across the corridor, it will be left behind its international competitors. By providing the foundations for such a strategy, new east-west transport links present a once in a generation opportunity to secure the area’s future success.
This interim report makes practical recommendations to that end:
- Government should go ahead with East West Rail’s initial phase, a new link cutting journey times by more than half on the route from Oxford to Bedford and Milton Keynes, ensuring it is delivered before 2024; and it should invest in developing as soon as possible detailed plans for both the next phase of East West Rail (which would complete the link to Cambridge) and for a new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway.
- Plans for these major new transport links should be drawn up with the specific intention of securing the tens of thousands of new homes this area needs.
- Local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, key government departments and national delivery agencies, should work together to develop a strategic vision for housing, jobs and infrastructure across the corridor, as well as proposals for the joint governance arrangements required to deliver co-ordinated planning. This should include the consideration of ambitious new delivery mechanisms, such as development corporations focused on new transport hubs and interchanges. The quality of infrastructure and its impact on maintaining and enhancing the built environment of the corridor should be central to any strategic plan for the area.
In the second phase of this study, the National Infrastructure Commission will work with local and national government, and other stakeholders, to put this strategy in place.
The final report will be published by Autumn 2017.