Consultation responses online submission: https://placebuilder.io/futureofthearc
Background - The Arc spans the five counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. This forms an ‘Arc’, which provides a place to live for approximately 3.7 million residents and supports over 2 million jobs It is a unique place, home to cutting-edge research, globally renowned science and technology clusters, and some of the most productive towns and cities in the country. It contains a vibrant natural environment, world-leading universities, and a rich cultural heritage, all of which makes it a desirable place to live, visit, work and invest. The Arc is home to one of the fastest growing economies in England, and has been designated by the Government as an area of national economic importance. We have an opportunity to benefit communities by better connecting people, places, services and businesses through more sustainable transport and ensuring development across the area is truly sustainable.
However, if we are to meet the challenges that come with growth and protect and enhance the Arc’s heritage and environment, we must plan better across administrative boundaries and seek to provide for future needs, delivering the right development and supporting infrastructure in the right places at the right times.
In February this year, the Government published details about the intention to create a longterm strategic plan for the Arc, called a ‘spatial framework’. This Spatial Framework will provide a vision for the future of the whole area to 2050 and beyond, in order to better coordinate and focus investment and shape future local planning decisions on how land is used, how the environment is protected and enhanced, where and what type of new development happens, and what infrastructure is provided. It which will set national planning policy and national transport policy for the Arc, helping to guide strategic development in the area in a way that supports sustainable economic growth and benefits communities across the Arc.
Consultation - This consultation is the first phase of the Government’s work on this Spatial Framework and brings a different approach to how and when central government engages locally on what will be national policy. The Government is engaging at this early stage to make sure those who live, work or have an interest in the region can have a meaningful voice in the development of the Spatial Framework, and that it can be built upon the aspirations and needs of the people it will serve. This first consultation is seeking views from the public about their vision for the area, and their priorities for the Arc in the years to come. These views will help shape the vision for the Arc Spatial Framework, ultimately guiding future growth in the Arc to 2050.
Alongside the consultation to create a vision, the Government is also seeking views on its initial plans for the Framework’s Sustainability Appraisal - its process for ensuring that any policy going into the Framework is developed with environmental, economic and social sustainability at its heart.
This consultation marks the first of a three-stage process for the development of the Spatial Framework, as outlined by the Government. There will be two further consultations and other opportunities to liaise with central Government on the future of the Arc across the two-year project.
Maximising participation - It is important that the vision for this Spatial Framework reflects the aspirations and priorities of those living, working, or with an interest in communities across the Arc. To gather views from residents and local businesses, the Government has launched a new online tool, designed to make it as quick and easy as possible for residents and members of the public to make their voice heard This can be found here: https://placebuilder.io/futureofthearc. Alternatively, written submissions can be sent in also. Details about this can be found in the consultation information.