A spatial framework mapping out the route for the Oxford-Cambridge arc to expand dramatically with more than one million new jobs is being proposed by the government.
Forecasts suggest with the right investment economic output could grow from between £80.4 billion and £163 billion a year with between 476,500 and 1.1m extra jobs by 2050.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is already home to world-leading economic, cultural and scientific assets.
“We know for instance Cambridge’s rate of patent applications – a key indicator of innovation – is the highest in the United Kingdom, while nearby Milton Keynes is the fastest growing city in the country.”
He said the government wanted to take the region, spanning Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, to the next phase of unlocking its potential.
The intention is to establish an Arc growth body to oversee the spatial framework plan to create jobs, drive up investment, enhance the environment and build more new homes.
The region’s population has grown by 17 per cent to 3.7m over the last 20 years and is already home to more than two million jobs.
Housing in key spots to help sustainable development
New jobs have surpassed local plan targets but housing delivery has been insufficient to accommodate the need, according to researchers.
Cambridge and Oxford have become pricier putting homeownership beyond the reach of many with population growth highest in cheaper areas such as Corby, Milton Keynes and Peterborough. However, this pattern of growth is regarded as unsustainable leading to longer and more polluting journeys to work.
The government is investing in the new east-west rail link to connect Oxford and Cambridge and providing over £400m of housing infrastructure fund to support housebuilding on key sites.
It has published a policy paper setting out a timeline for developing the spatial framework and how to engage with relevant stakeholders.
This spring local partners and the public will be engaged with a possible vision for the spatial framework set to be published for initial public consultation by the summer.
Savills head of UK planning David Jackson, said: “This is an exciting time therefore for all those with an interest in the Arc to have a role in shaping one of the most important economic growth areas in the country.”