Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Public fears for the countryside and environment over the Ox-Cam Arc

Monday, 25 March 2019 11:18

Near Guilden Morden Near Guilden Morden Photo: © Alan James

Three-quarters (74%) of residents living in the Oxfordshire-Cambridgeshire region believe plans for substantial development there will lead to damage of the local countryside and environment. 

This is just one finding of a new poll carried out by research company Survation on behalf of CPRE. 1,500 residents across five counties (Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) were interviewed on development proposals known as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc (Ox-Cam Arc). 

The plans could see one million new homes built across the region by 2050. Building on this scale could cover an area of countryside greater than the size of Birmingham, according to CPRE’s analysis.

Despite this, the government has given the project its backing without a formal public consultation, or weighing up its impact on the countryside, people’s health and climate change.

For any new development, an overwhelming majority (79%) of residents believe the housing needs of local people must take priority and three quarters (76%) believe more social housing is what is most needed for the area. 

CPRE warn that based on current projections, no more than 18% of the locally identified need for affordable homes will be met during the planned period of growth.

The impact of the government’s ‘growth at all costs’ approach could have catastrophic consequences for the local countryside, wildlife, the environment and local communities. CPRE are calling for a full Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry into the proposals which should look at the potential impact on the local environment and communities as well as on the economies of other regions of the UK.

Helen Marshall, Director at CPRE Oxfordshire, said: “Politicians are hiding behind a network of bureaucracy and grand claims to push through a massive increase in development at whatever the cost to the environment and without any guarantee that local housing needs will be met. There is clear support for greater transparency on these decisions and we challenge politicians at all levels to respond appropriately.

“The Government has promised a ‘public engagement exercise’ this summer in its new vision statement for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, published last week alongside its Spring Statement. CPRE fear this will be nothing but a meaningless box ticking exercise and will fail to engage with the range of views that encompass the depth of objection to the proposals”.

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc Survey was carried out by Survation, on behalf of CPRE Oxfordshire. Between 17 Jan-26 Feb, 1,543 people aged over 18 and living in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, were interviewed online (300+ in each county).

For a more detailed breakdown of these results please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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