Ox-cam arc to become 'global growth corridor'

The UK government has unveiled plans to transform the 'Oxford-Cambridge Arc' into one of the world’s premier growth corridors and a global leader in sustainability.

According to analysts, development of the Arc, which spans Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, could result in in its economic output doubling to more than £200 billion by 2050.The government is planning to establish an Arc Growth Body to help "unleash the area’s potential as a global innovation powerhouse by promoting the Arc internationally".Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said a spatial framework plan would be drawn up by next year to help to create thousands of jobs, drive investment, protect and enhance the environment, and provide "the infrastructure and beautiful new places needed to make the area an even greater place to live and work".He added: “The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is already home to world-leading economic, cultural and scientific assets.“We know, for instance, Cambridge’s rate of patent applications – a key indicator of innovation – is the highest in the United Kingdom, while nearby Milton Keynes is the fastest growing city in the country.“We want to take this region to the next phase of its renaissance by unlocking its full potential and our plans will drive investment where it is needed and ensure, as growth happens, we create well-designed, inclusive and vibrant places and communities.“The OxCam Spatial Framework will allow us to plan positively for growth and we look forward to working with our local partners over the coming months to strengthen our vision and approach to the Arc.” The government pointed out that the region's population had grown by 17 per cent, to 3.7 million over the past 20 years - the fastest rate anywhere in the country, apart from London - and was already home to more than two million jobs.Its policy paper on the Arc accepted that further expansion had the potential to cause damage to the local environment.Bridget Smith, the leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council and chair of the OxCam Arc environment working group, said: “There has been a huge amount of work by a lot of people, including many leading environmental charities, to create a really ambitious set of environmental principles for the Arc.“It is very gratifying that our determination has led to the environment having equal top billing along with the economy in the government’s vision for the Arc.“There is an opportunity not to be missed to turn the Arc into an internationally significant exemplar for low carbon living and working which benefits peoples' health, wellbeing and their pocket.“At South Cambridgeshire District Council, we have just adopted a fantastic Doubling Nature strategy, and I am delighted that others across the Arc and government have followed suit it in recognising the importance of protecting and enhancing natural assets, and creating new natural environments.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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