Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Tuesday, 23 February 2021 13:38

Wicken fen Wicken fen IMAGE: Rob Noble / Brickpit Pond, Wicken Fen 1760158.jpg



The announcement of an OxCam Arc Spatial Framework is deeply disappointing say Countryside campaigners in Cambridgeshire.  They say it will drive an agenda of maximum growth, unwanted by local people, which is both inappropriate and unnecessary in a post-Covid world and in the context of a climate emergency.


The Countryside Charity, CPRE says since it is not a statutory plan it will not be subject to formal inspection and scrutiny.   However, once agreed, it will be a major consideration when local authorities are preparing their own Local Plans. 


The Arc, a proposed development corridor stretching from Oxford to Cambridge via Bicester, Milton Keynes and Bedford, aims to foster the creation of a UK ‘Silicon Valley’ by linking academic, research, and business assets to promote future growth.  “The Silicon valley concept is hugely dated,” said Chairman of CPRE Cambridgeshire, Alan James. “The sixty-year-old idea of ‘clustering’ as a means of developing modern research is long gone.  Anyone working in pharmaceuticals, IT and many other industries will confirm they now cooperate globally – just look at Covid vaccine development.”


The Government is proposing one million new homes and jobs within the Arc to be completed by 2050. CPRE say this will effectively double the housing stock and population and put over 25,000 hectares of Greenfield land at risk.  The project also proposes an Oxford - Cambridge Expressway road link and a Cambridge to Bedford railway that will allow an East-West rail connection.


“There has been no opportunity for public consultation and it takes decision-making away from our locally elected representatives.  It will allow the Government to pursue a top-down imposition of growth, paying no heed to the rural nature of much of the area or the particular needs of local communities” said Mr James. 


 The Arc is an imaginary concept designed to create artificial competition between regions, rather than directing appropriate development to where it is needed,” he continued “This would irreparably damage our countryside and disregard the Prime Minister’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.


CPRE is calling for a return to locally led plan-making which prioritises social housing and the protection of rural character.  The Charity also wants to see a national industrial policy favouring the Midlands and the north, re-furbishing empty homes and seeking to create modern, digital and research-based employment opportunities.


For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:


Alan James: Mob: 07801 880113    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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