Horton cum Studley Expressway Group
On 12 September, 2018 the Government announced that Corridor B had been chosen for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.
The Government’s full report can be read here.
The Horton cum Studley Expressway Group’s Press Release in response to the announcement.
However, we are still
Following on from the government’s 12th September 2018 preferred corridor announcement, the HcSE Group has identified the following threats:
There is likely to be an Expressway somewhere
The Otmoor basin & Bernwood Forest ecosystems are still very much at risk
It is likely new route proposals will include a new M40 junction near Arncott
The ongoing plans for an additional 300,000 new homes in Oxfordshire by 2050 with all the associated infrastructure/services will put more Green Belt areas at risk
Highways England has confirmed in writing to the HcSE Group that they could choose a route for the Expressway outside the published boundaries of their preferred Corridor B
Once Green Belt land is lost to development it is gone forever.
If we don’t protect our Countryside, who will?
Where did the idea of the expressway and one million new houses between Oxford and Cambridge come from?
- The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) (non-Governmental, works with the Treasury in an advisory capacity) suggested the idea to capitalise on the technological and other outputs of the two Universities to stimulate the UK economy. Lord Adonis was Chair of the NIC Committee producing this idea (he had earlier suggested HS2) and key Reports about the expressway appeared in November 2017. Clearly a great deal of work and consultants’ hours had been spent before this date.
- The NIC Report stressed the need for houses for the new jobs that would be generated along the corridor. The expressway arises from the need to connect the houses to the jobs (a better road network would allow workers to commute from greater distances!).
What is an Expressway?
- A minimum dual carriageway road, up to a three-lane highway. An expressway differs from a motorway in having more entrance and exit points.
And how many houses?
- The November 2017 NIC Reports suggested that one million ‘new’ homes would be built along the Oxford-Cambridge expressway (to house 1.9 million people). Oxfordshire’s share of that total would be more than 300,000 houses; the county’s current total housing stock is only 280,000.
Oxford City has 55,400 households, so the additional houses for the county are equivalent to about 6 new Oxford’s or 21 Bicesters.
- There has been huge subsequent debate on whether it’s one million totally new homes or one million homes including those already in the planning pipeline. It seems to be the latter, but estimates suggest that more than half of the total is due the expressway alone.
So, who is in charge now?
- Much of the recent work on the expressway has been done by Highways England, HE, (a Government Company, working for the NIC). It has produced numerous Reports on how best to spread one million homes across the countryside (as a few major new cities, or sprinkling them among existing settlements?) and then how best to connect these homes to the imagined jobs the residents will do.
When will the Expressway be built?
- Once approved, construction of the Expressway will start in 2025 and is due for completion by 2030. The one million extra homes are due to be delivered by 2050.
How will it be funded?
- The expressway is costed at £3.5 billion but it is not clear what this sum refers to. It appears that the Government hopes that a levy on all those new homes will pay for some or all of the expressway.
But isn’t there going to be a new Railway line too?
- Yes, the Government is committed to re-opening the Oxford to Cambridge Varsity line, the East West Railway (EWR), the first section of which (Oxford to Bedford) was confirmed before the recent Parliamentary recess. This section is due for completion by 2023. The Bedford to Cambridge section (route still to be decided) is due to be opened by 2030.
If we have a railway, why do we also need a road?
- This is a very good question to which there is no obvious answer. Railways solve the difficult ‘first mile’/ ‘last mile’ problem, of getting out of or into town from the ring road. Additional roads will only add to congestion and pollution. NO2 pollution levels in Oxford City Centre exceeded European standards at 24% of monitored sites in 2017. The Oxford FoE Expressway Alliance position is to finish the EWR before even considering building more roads.