Poll of residents of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc highlights concerns for the countryside
In a recent poll, 1,500 people were interviewed about the proposals for a million new homes by 2050. The development will extend across the ‘Arc’, an area spanning the five counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire.
Commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and undertaken by research company Survation, the poll results found that 74 per cent of residents living in the Oxford-to-Cambridge Arc are worried that the new proposals will have a negative impact on the countryside and local environment.
The development, if it is approved, will mean building on over 27,000 hectares of green field and woodland, equating to an area the size of Birmingham.
There is a local support for providing new homes in the arc, but 59 per cent of residents are resistant to the scale of the proposed housebuilding.
If plans for the Oxford-to-Cambridge Arc go head, 82 per cent of residents are in favour of making housing needs of local people a priority; 74 per cent of pollsters believe that social housing is what the area needs most.
Local residents are calling for a full parliamentary select committee inquiry into the proposals to consider the potential impact on the local environment and communities, as well as the economies of other areas of the country.
The CPRE maintains that based on recent projects, only around 18 per cent of the affordable homes required locally would be provided for in this growth plan period. The organisation warns that without formal public consultation and an environmental assessment the impact of “the government’s growth at all “costs” approach could have “catastrophic” consequences for the local countryside, wildlife and environment.
CPRE’s Paul Miner, head of strategic plans and devolution said: “It is “unthinkable” that the government is considering such large development without assessing its impact.
“Rather than ignoring people and the environment in a rush for economic growth, consideration of the full effects on communities and the environment must be given priority. Before the government takes these proposals any further it is imperative that a Strategic Environmental Assessment is carried out, along with a full public consultation on the proposals.”
Helen Marshall, director at CPRE Oxfordshire, added: “Many local and national politicians are hiding behind a network of bureaucracy and grand claims to push through a massive increase in development at whatever the cost to the environment, but without any guarantee that local housing needs will be met. There is clear support for greater transparency on these decisions and we challenge our MPs to respond appropriately.”