Oxford-Cambridge Arc residents, and those with an interest in the area, are being given the opportunity to contribute to the long-term development of the area as part of a Government consultation.
A new plan aims to enhance the infrastructure, environment and new developments in the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. It will be developed by Government, informed by engagement with local communities and stakeholders, and will have "sustainability at its core", the Government said.
This public consultation, via a digital platform, is the first of three that will guide a new Spatial Framework over the next two years.
Comments received in the consultation will help create the Spatial Framework’s vision for the area to 2050, and will help guide local planning and investment decisions in four areas: the environment; the economy; connectivity and infrastructure; and place-making.
The consultation is also seeking views on the work the Government has done to set the scope of the Sustainability Appraisal.
Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: "The East West Rail (EWR) project plays an important role in enabling connectivity within the OxCam Arc and will help us build back better from Covid-19.
"We’ve committed £760 million to the first phase of EWR which will support improved access to jobs and other opportunities in the area as well as boosting economic growth in the region more widely."
Expert panel on sustainable economic and housing growth
The Government has also announced a new expert panel to advise on sustainable economic and housing growth in the Arc, which will be chaired by development and regeneration expert Emma Cariaga.
It will advise the Government on issues ranging from design and sustainability to delivery and investment models.
The panel’s primary area of focus is between Bedford and Cambridge, where the Government is examining opportunities to bring forward well-designed, inclusive and sustainable places.
Other members will consist of industry leaders, local representatives and subject area experts from a range of disciplines, who will work with local government and other partners to inform the panel’s advice. The full panel will be confirmed in due course.
Councillor Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council and chair of the Arc Leadership Groups said: "The bold economic and sustainability ambitions we have set out for our region need to be matched by well-planned, long-term and coordinated investment into our towns, cities and rural areas. Inclusive growth, with high environmental standards so that all our residents can benefit, remains at the heart of what we seek to achieve.
"By progressing the Arc Spatial Framework, Government will look at how and where we need to connect and build new infrastructure, whilst enhancing our environment to deliver the sustainable growth that our region is capable of.
"To start, we must shape a shared vision for the type of growth we want to see.
"This is why it’s so important for every single resident to be able to have their say directly to Government on what matters most to them.
"How we create opportunities for people to prosper, today and in the future, is an important matter for everyone."