WSP welcomes Government’s announcement on the preferred corridor, as advised by Highways England, for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway that will help unlock much needed housing across the region and provide better links to jobs, education, leisure and health services for its people.

“With this latest announcement, local and international partners and stakeholders must now come together to maintain the momentum and ensure that we continue to identify and tackle the challenges facing its delivery,” says Adrian Hames, Director at WSP. As part of this, engineering and professional services consultancy WSP and Pinsent Masons recently held a seminar where companies from the private and public sectors assessed how to best deliver this strategic Arc.  

 Key recommendations identified during the seminar:

  1. Ensure clear leadership and governance that reduces uncertainty by putting in place new mechanisms, such as a regional planning body, and developing a national policy statement and frameworks to collaborate, coordinate and deliver growth. Utilising the experiences already developed through bodies as the England's Economic Heartland Alliance Strategic Transport Forum.
  2. Produce a joint spatial plan for infrastructure, housing and economic / job growth with quality design, resource sustainability and environmental standards.
  3. Provide new models for growth, including how to deliver new towns and cities in the Arc that provide quality homes for all, and effective and sustainable use of space.
  4. Make sure our infrastructure is Future-Ready for and can adapt to climate change, changing society, whilst making the best use of resources and embracing future technology changes and its impacts on mobility.
  5. Allow communities, academics, industry and government to efficiently and effectively work together to deliver quality infrastructure more quickly to improve market confidence, and attract and retain world-class investment.   

Comments Adrian Hames, “We’re delighted to see progress on this nationally significant infrastructure, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to speed up delivery. With some of the highest housing prices in the country, the Arc is in desperate need of new homes adapted to all with the supporting infrastructure so local communities can access jobs and health services.” Adrian adds, “we now need to put in place a joint infrastructure and housing plan for the heartland area to unlock growth, in line with the National Infrastructure Commission’s ambitions.  

“We’re also pleased to see that the preferred corridor is consistent with WSP’s work delivered on the first stage of the Expressway Strategic study.”

It was clear from this event that the vision for the Arc should be one of thriving and sustainable communities supported by smart infrastructure which can meet local and strategic needs.  

New business connections and vibrant communities need to be created to drive future mobility and pave the way for sustainability. Infrastructure is critical to future success and competitiveness because transport, energy, communications, utilities and housing that has been wisely considered, targeted, funded and delivered sustainably can become a powerful agent for the economy in the Arc: A clear attraction to international investment and development.  

Key to this vision is a global brand for the Arc and increasing the pace of delivery for nationally significant infrastructure within a sustainable proactively planned framework. This includes East-West Rail and the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

Presentation slides from the seminar can be viewed here and the full presentations results here

Read our brochure on the Cambridge Milton Keynes Oxford Arc, 'Unlocking Growth'

Notes to editor

 For further information please contact amelie.barrau@wsp.com07469402484

Key findings and conclusions from the WSP and Pinsent Mason seminar:

  • 75% of participants agreed that the Arc is one of the most important infrastructure and economic development projects in the UK and a priority for Government funding
  • The three key challenges that will affect delivery are lack of governance, issues associated with the planning process and infrastructure constraints   

 Biggest challenges - Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc

  • 78% of participants agreed that there should be a regional planning body, and 92% suggested that there needs to be a joint transport infrastructure and housing/jobs plan for delivery rather than isolated projects  

Regioal Planning Body - Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc

  • 86% of participants made it clear that housing targets could only be met with public sector support in terms of effective governance, improved planning processes and infrastructure investment
  • 84% considered that the East West Rail and the Expressway was critical to success and that infrastructure is crucial for ongoing competitiveness and productivity in the Arc
  • Whilst there was consensus that the ability to be Future-Ready were essential to delivering growth,  tackling housing, loneliness, addressing an ageing population, promoting social cohesion, addressing climate change, natural resource and energy resilience, catering for the flexible use of technology and mobility and ensuring people benefit from the natural environment were essential components.    

About WSP:  

WSP is one of the world's leading engineering professional services consulting firms. We are dedicated to our local communities and propelled by international brainpower. We are technical experts and strategic advisors including engineers, technicians, scientists, architects, planners, surveyors and environmental specialists, as well as other design, program and construction management professionals. We design lasting solutions in the Property & Buildings, Transportation & Infrastructure, Environment, Industry, Resources (including Mining and Oil & Gas) and Power & Energy sectors as well as project delivery and strategic consulting services.  

With 7,800 talented people in the UK and more than 43,600 globally, we engineer projects that will help societies grow for lifetimes to come. WSP has been involved in many high-profile UK projects including the Shard, Crossrail, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Manchester Metrolink, M1 Smart Motorway, the re-development of London Bridge Station, and the London Olympic & Paralympic Route Network.