No Expressway Update - Quietly Shelved but NOT cancelled
Long overdue update but is was a crazy few weeks leading up to the petition being handed in to Downing Street ... so here are the headlines so you are up to speed.
Budget and Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2) – Expressway Paused NOT Cancelled
Ox-Cam Expressway “paused” is a missed opportunity to cancel. Housing growth still being planned
It is a missed opportunity and very disappointing that the budget was not used to cancel the Expressway. Given the budget was focused on messages about “getting things done”, the RIS2 document would have been the ideal place to announce complete cancellation of this destructive scheme.
RIS2 announced the Ox-Cam Expressway is “paused”, saying:“We are now pausing further development of the scheme while we undertake further work on other potential road projects that could support the Government’s ambition for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc” “including exploring opportunities to alleviate congestion around the Arc’s major economic centres such as Milton Keynes”
Interestingly RIS2 says the government “investigated the potential for a new high-quality link road between the M1 and M40 which could support this growth and examined the costs and benefits of a range of options, taking account of the views of local authorities and residents in the Arc. Interesting that RIS2 only talks about M1-M40, not M1-M4 (from M1-Cambridge the road is almost all at Expressway standard). Great to see the RIS2 acknowledge the impact of what Local Authorities & residents of the Arc have said… they didn’t seek us out... but we have made our views clear! ALSO of note are the expected commitments to improve junctions between Black Cat and Caxton Gibbet & complete the A34 Newbury to M40 junction 9 safety enhancements.
The Budget says that the corridor of land connecting Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge (the OxCam Arc) has been designated as a key economic priority – be ready for development!
Both the Budget & RIS2 mention work to be done with local partners to prepare a long-term Spatial Framework to identify the role of transport, “proposed economic and housing growth ambitions for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.”
The Budget says the government will “examine and develop the case for up to four new Development Corporations in the OxCam Arc at Bedford, St Neots/Sandy, Cambourne and Cambridge, which includes plans to explore the case for a New Town at Cambridge, to accelerate new housing and infrastructure development.” - this does not mean there won’t be development in other areas of the Arc, far from it!