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Are developers playing games with our precious counties?

Christa McDermott
By Christa McDermott
14th March 2022

The five counties around the line between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge are known as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. The area comprises Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.

The National Infrastructure Commission is proposing development plans for one million new houses across the Arc by 2050, aiming to boost the economy in the five counties by up to £163 billion per year. However the threat of this development to the existing communities’ way of life is immense, not to mention the effects it will have on the local wildlife and pollution levels. CPRE Buckinghamshire wanted to hear what our members thought of the plans. The results from our recent survey were clear.

80.4% of participants said they would not vote for this plan if there was a referendum. From the survey results members agreed they want decisions of this scale to be made as locally as possible, by elected representatives. Especially ones that are going to completely change the character of their home town, forever! Our members also agree that, although we accept more housing is needed, it does not have to result in growth of this nature. That’s 105% in Oxon, 81% in Cambs, 74% in Northants and 66% in affected areas of Bucks/Beds. All in under 30 years! This is colossal compared with 16% that was predicted for the nation as a whole by the Office of National Statistics.

We asked: “Government plans for the Arc would increase the total number of jobs and houses by about 1 million, however only one-quarter of these houses are needed to cope with local rates of growth; how do you feel about this?” 76% of our members strongly disapproved. Survey results also showed the majority our members agreed that this high rate of development and improving our environment at the same time is likely impossible. Therefore CPRE Bucks members voted that we wish for the Arc to grow at the ‘national average rate or lower’. Burdening the Arc with one quarter (26%) of England’s total growth from now to 2050 is not the answer.


Finally when asked: “What are the top priorities, for you and for future generations?

The 4 leading answers were:

  1. Climate change action.
  2. Green spaces and thriving local nature.
  3. Clean air, enough water and healthy rivers.
  4. Services (health, education, social care)


We believe with greener and smarter planning, like using brown field sites wherever we can instead of destroying our precious green belt these 4 priorities can work harmoniously with plans for more homes.


Should we leave our future up to …

For more detailed information on the development plans and ways you can help mould them, please click here.

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