Oxford-Cambridge Expressway: Reply from John Howell MP to Sarah Foxcroft, Chair PC

Dear Sarah

 

Thank you for your email and for sharing your concerns.

 

Highways England are not currently looking at the A420 but I have been advised that it is not entirely off the radar. I think it would be in a future phase but none the less that possibility is being considered so that provision could be made for it.

 

As I understand it the recent stakeholders exhibition set out things for and against each potential route. There is no one route that stands out above others as ‘the’ best. The meetings that have just been carried out were to start a conversation with local councils so that Highways England can gather local intelligence to assist their research. The work that Highways England are doing is independent of funding issues at this stage and not directly linked to housing. Their task is to narrow down options to a few feasible routes which will then go to formal consultation.

 

The issue of housing numbers in South Oxfordshire and the City remains contentions in my view. Through work in central Government I personally worked to give the opportunity for SODC to reduce its housing need figures. The council chose not to take that opportunity but have linked with the County Council on growth bids. However, I do know that SODC responded to the Housing Minister’s call for additional housing to be planned for specifically in relation to the Expressway in the negative.

 

Both SODC and OCC have committed to a few separate but linked growth projects. I am shortly to meet the Leaders of both Councils for a full briefing on the various projects that they are bringing together. Until then I do not have the overview and cannot really say more.

 

At least for the time being I do continue to support the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway. It is part of a much bigger strategic plan for central England and too often Governments have taken a short-term view of investment in strategic infrastructure. That said, the feasibility work will go ahead with or without my support.

 

Let’s keep in touch on this going forward.

 

John   

John Howell OBE MP FSA

Member of Parliament for the Henley Constituency

Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria | Member of the Council of Europe | Deputy Chairman Industry and Parliament Trust | Government Neighbourhood Planning Champion | Chairman Communities and Local Government Conservative Backbench Committee

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, Tel. 020 7219 6676