Agenda item

Agenda item

National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) Oxford -Cambridge Corridor - presentation

Bev Hindle, from Oxfordshire County Council, will give a presentation on the National Infrastructure Commission report.

 gives some background information


Alastair Gordon, from the National Infrastructure Commission, gave a presentation on the proposed new deal for the Cambridge to Oxford Arc.


The presentation is available as a supplement to the minutes.


In summary he made the following points during the presentation and in answer to questions:


1.    The three cities in the arc drove prosperity in the sub-region and this mattered to the country as a whole, making a substantial contribution to the UK economy. Making the arc work better would therefore have significant national and regional economic benefits. However realising these required the provision of housing and infrastructure at a scale that necessitated both  a different approach and a new deal between central government and local areas.


2.    The fundamental challenge was the lack of sufficient and suitable housing to meet the need both for local residents and new employees. The shortfall pushed up prices: and placed pressure on the limited supply: this impacted access to labour and labour costs. Consequently firms then went elsewhere or struggled to attract staff. The NIC calculated that by 2050 the rate of housebuilding must d provide a million new homes. The challenge was also to build new towns with good community and high quality of life, not just add low density urban extensions. The vision was for about half of the growth on existing and half on new towns. There was no shortage of innovative ideas for new towns as a recent design competition has shown.


3.    The NIC report concluded that poor east-west links prevented mobility between the hub cities and made commuting between areas difficult. Consequently East-west rail links should be developed as quickly as possible, with limited numbers of stations to increase transit speed. The NIC’s conclusion was that the Expressway should also traverse the same corridor to allow the development of high-quality well-connected new towns along a single connected route. There was no existing or long-term funding planned for infrastructure projects but this may come through bespoke deals, statutory levies from land value uplift, and local strategic levies.


4.    Broadband provision was also vital to national economy and the NIC had addressed improved digital capability as a national issue.


5.    There would need to be consultation to identify locations and options and to reach agreement on, not stall, delivery. This would be achieved through the planning process with full consultation although the NIC report noted that for national schemes the Secretary of State had reserve powers to designate new settlements.


6.    Bringing this forward at a good pace required public and private large scale investment and planning: statutory development corporations are the most appropriate delivery vehicle.


7.    The work of the NIC would be handed to the Cities and Local Growth Unit within DCLG to progress. Once government had formally responded to the NIC’s recommendations, the NIC had a role in holding government to account for progress on these.


Councillors commented that a positive response and engagement was necessary and high-quality delivery was essential. The dilemma was in capturing an appropriate contribution from increased land value as this funded the infrastructure key to making a success of the required increased housebuilding. The report set out a huge opportunity but progress was held back by past slow development: large sites took many years to bring forward. They looked forward to the results of the place-making design competition.


The Board noted the presentation and comments.


Supporting documents: