The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway – a ribbon developer’s charter?

generic-news-2The Coalition has written to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) objecting to the concept of the proposed Expressway between Oxford and Cambridge and raising concerns about the lack of accountability / transparency around the whole corridor development process.

The NIC is currently looking at proposals to build an Oxford to Cambridge Expressway and is due to issue a report ahead of the Autumn Budget on 22 November. It will set out the case for the Expressway, but it is unlikely to specify an actual route – our understanding is that this will won’t be announced until July 2018.

See the Oxford to Cambridge expressway strategic study: stage 3 report by the Department of Transport (November 2016), which outlines the high level case for a strategic link to connect the cities of ‘the brain belt’ together.

The intention is to support the new road by building one million houses along the route – which works out at an average of 10,000 houses per mile.

As far as NNGO is concerned, it is no more than a ribbon developer’s charter!

The most likely routes for the Expressway (although they are not in the public domain!) are either an upgrading of the A34/A421 north of Oxford or a ten mile route through the Green Belt south of Oxford from Abingdon to Thame and on to Aylesbury and Cambridge.

You can see a map of the likely routes on the CPRE website.

NNGO is unconvinced of the need for, and is opposed to the concept of the Expressway/Growth Corridor through the ‘Oxford/Cambridge Arc’.

If extra capacity should be required, the East-West Rail project should clearly take priority.

We have recently learnt from Highways England that they do not at present intend to consult about the Oxford-Cambridge Expresway/Corridor or hold a Public Inquiry to make the choice between the options. They only intend to have a consultation AFTER the proposed route has been announced.

NNGO strongly objects to the lack of accountability / transparency around the whole corridor development process, particularly the intention to choose a route corridor without reference to any form of public consultation.

See: NNGO letter to NIC – O2C Expressway & Corridor 8.11.17