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With growth development comes investment opportunities

Land and property specialist Robinson & Hall gives its take on how the plans to develop the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor will create development opportunities for landowners.

The Autumn Budget 2018 further strengthened the government’s commitment to growth in the Oxford to Cambridge corridor following the NIC’s emphasis that it can only realise its full potential with an integrated and ambitious strategy to deliver new homes, connectivity and opportunities.

Two major infrastructure projects form the foundation: the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway and East West Rail.

The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway will improve journey times between Oxford and the M1 and boost economic growth in the region. The preferred route B was announced in September and will broadly align with the proposed East-West rail route. Route B is proposed to travel along the south of Milton Keynes and to link up with the A421 towards Bedford.

A public consultation on this route is expected to take place next year.

A target completion date of 2030 has been set by the NIC and Highways England to deliver the ‘missing link’ of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway. A clearly defined route should be agreed by 2025 to enable construction to begin as part of the next Road Investment Strategy.

The East West Rail western section” route proposes to connect Oxford to Milton Keynes to Bedford via Winslow and Bletchley. Phase one was completed in December 2016, upgrading the rail connection between Oxford and Bicester. Phase two will upgrade and reconstruct the sections of line that link Bedford with Bicester, Milton Keynes and Princes Risborough.

As part of this section, the existing stations at Woburn Sands and Ridgmont will be utilised. Network Rail has submitted a Transport and Works Act Order Application for Phase 2 of the project.

The East West Rail preferred “Central Section” route between Bedford and Cambridge is anticipated to be consulted on and selected during 2019. In February 2016, it was confirmed that the route would travel via Sandy. The illustrative programme, assuming funding and consents, shows a possible completion in early 2030s.

What impact will this have on landowners?

THE GOVERNMENT’S ambition for one million homes by 2050 in the region will see exceptional growth in every district between Oxford and Cambridge. Ministers will explore options for a single spatial plan for the Oxford-Cambridge growth corridor with the publication of a corridor wide Joint Vision Statement to 2050 due in spring 2019.

This will hopefully provide us with further detail on where development is likely to be concentrated.

The NIC’s Partnering Prosperity report sets out that through a robust and transparent process, locations for new and expanded settlements will be designated by 2020. To do so, formal studies will be commissioned to identify and assess options for new settlements, along with consultation with communities, stakeholders and a public examination of proposed sites.

As part of the Local Plan making process and the above site identification and assessment process, Councils will be tasked with planning for such growth in their Local Plans. This will likely come in the form of reviews of their current and emerging Local Plans.

  • Milton Keynes has committed to a review of their Local Plan to realise potential of the growth corridor and to expland to a population of 500,000 by 2050 with the intention of a draft plan to be submitted to the Government for examination no later than the end of 2022.

Plan:MK clarifies that the majority of development will be focused and adjacent to the existing urban area of Milton Keynes, with development in the rural areas of the Borough concentrated in Newport Pagnell, Olney and Woburn Sands.

  • Aylesbury Vale District Council submitted its local plan to the government in early 2018 with the examination hearings taking place in July. The Inspector has raised concerns that the emerging plan makes no allowance for the effects of the growth corridor and further consideration should be taken on the impact of housing land.

The council has anticipated an early review soon after adoption and the main areas of growth are likely to be Haddenham, Winslow, Buckingham, Wendover and the close to the border with Milton Keynes.

  • The Central Bedfordshire emerging Local Plan commits the council to a partial plan review to identify areas for future growth and is proposed to start within six months of adoption (likely autumn 2019) of the emerging Plan.

The areas identified for future growth include Aspley Guise, Tempsford, south of Sutton, and west of Luton.

  • The emerging Bedford Borough Local Plan also commits the council to an immediate review of the Local Plan.
How can Robinson & Hall help?

WITH ALL of the above infrastructure investment and government commitment comes development opportunities for housing and employment land. Landowners between Oxford and Cambridge are well placed to take advantage of the development required to realise this ambition growth.

To promote land is expensive and time consuming while agreements with promoters often involve neighbouring landowners and should be closely scrutinised.

With offices in Bedford and Buckingham, Robinson & Hall is well placed to assist farmers and landowners in the region. We have vast experience in dealing with option and promotion agreements for clients and are well placed to lead farmers and landowners through the many opportunities which the growth corridor will bring.

Whether you instruct us to promote the land on your behalf or whether you ask us to find a development partner to work with, our aim is to make a highly technical and sometimes lengthy process as easy as possible for you.

We are actively promoting, managing the delivery of and negotiating the sale of a range of sites, from small plots on the edge of existing villages through to land forming part of sustainable urban extensions on the edges of large settlements.

Our focus is to add value to your land and we want to cut out the need to deal with several companies to achieve your goal and therefore the range of property services we provide means that we can cater for virtually any land requirement.

For further information or to find out how we can help contact Robinson & Hall’s senior planner Amy Atkinson 07469 147972 or email ala@robinsonandhall.co.uk. 

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