Westminster Social Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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The Oxford-Cambridge Arc - next steps for infrastructure development, taking forward the shared vision and industrial strategies, and supporting economic recovery

Morning, Friday, 26th March 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on next steps for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, including discussion on meeting ambitions around infrastructure, connectivity, investment and environmental sustainability.

The conference takes place in the wake of significant policy developments aimed at responding to the health and financial challenges caused by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the Arc having been described by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a key economic priority for the country.

The agenda:

  • Supporting economic development across the Arc
  • Key takeaways from the Economic Prospectus and progress on project delivery
  • Boosting economic growth in the region in the wake of the pandemic and taking forward the Arc Spatial Framework
    • Priorities for attracting high-performing industries, investing in skills and improving productivity
    • Next steps for establishing the Arc as global leader in R&D and innovation
    • Developing a joined-up approach to the implementation of the Local Industrial Strategies
  • Delivering infrastructure to unlock the Arc’s potential
    • Streamlining connectivity, engaging communities, and reducing barriers to growth
    • Housing delivery in the Arc and levelling up communities
    • Upgrading transport infrastructure to support growth
    • Priorities for ensuring species and landscapes protection in the Arc and moving towards net zero
  • Key policy priorities for developing the Arc

Relevant developments:

  • key proposals:
    • the Oxford-Cambridge Arc Economic Prospectus - recently submitted to the Government:
      • setting out a vision to transform the Arc into a world-leading innovation and productivity hub and double the region’s economic output to £200bn by 2050
      • requesting long-term investment in the area to help the Arc fulfil its potential
    • The Oxford-Cambridge Arc: government ambition and joint declaration between government and local partners - published in 2019
  • a spatial framework:
    • announced in the Budget and expected to be published in early 2021
    • aimed at supporting strategic planning in the Arc and the area’s future economic success, with delivery of the new homes required to support growth up to 2050 and beyond
    • including an outline of four new development corporations
  • the Oxford Local Plan 2036 - adopted by the Oxford City Council and laying out plans for the delivery of new jobs, homes and infrastructure in Oxford as well as the Oxfordshire Investment Plan
  • the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Economic Recovery Strategy - aimed at helping the region's economy recover and renew following COVID-19
  • government announces preferred East West Rail central section - route E, for the Cambridge-Bedford section
  • other major strategies and support packages - such as £10bn package to build more homes and level up communities in the Spending Review, the recent Energy White Paper and National Infrastructure Strategy, and the upcoming R&D Places Strategy following the UK Research and Development Roadmap

Key areas for discussion:

  • the first Oxford-Cambridge Arc Economic Prospectus - assessing key recommendations, including calls for the Government to:
    • recognise the Arc’s role in the wider national ambition to cement the UK as a science superpower under the R&D Roadmap
    • establish direct Arc-governed investment channels to match the region’s ambitions
  • the strategic elements - looking at ways to drive the economic recovery of the region and the role of the Arc in the wider national economic recovery, with discussion expected on:
    • playing to the Arc’s strengths - how the region’s leadership in science, technology and advanced manufacturing can best be harnessed
    • collaboration - how joint working already going on between businesses, education and research institutions can be built on going forward
    • Local Industrial Strategies - progress in implementing the four LIS across the Arc, and the challenges faced in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
    • the four new development corporations - their purpose and potential, and assessing the case outlined in plans for the spatial framework
  • infrastructure in the Arc:
    • priorities for improvement - with calls for more investment and concern over the impact of connectivity and congestion constraints on the ability to fully unlock the potential of the region
    • current key focus areas - looking at the East West Rail, broadband connectivity and the Government’s ambitions to create 1m homes in the Arc by 2050
    • support - the impact of recent government announcements including an additional £4m in the Spending Review to help accelerate housing and infrastructure delivery in the Arc
    • the National Infrastructure Strategy - examining wider priorities for developing infrastructure in the Arc including for:
      • delivery - the way forward for improving and accelerating implementation of infrastructure projects and speeding up planning and procurement
      • private investment - how funding can be encouraged and diversified
      • decarbonisation - looking at heat, power and transport networks across the Arc
    • changing demands - with the pandemic having impacted the ways in which people use infrastructure:
      • the new normal - prospects for increased home working and active travel post-pandemic
      • implications - how new trends and habits should inform policy and the direction of infrastructure projects in the Arc
    • contributing to net-zero - ways to manage potential impacts on biodiversity, emissions and natural capital from economic growth and increased connectivity in the Arc

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from BEIS; the Cabinet Office; the Department for Transport; HM Revenue & Customs; the MHCLG and the Office of Government Property.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from local authorities within the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Arc as well as directly adjacent areas, engineering companies, transport providers, housing developers, environmental groups, investors, colleges and universities, lawyers, consultants, housing associations, local community representatives, business and industry associations, trade unions, academics, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Bridget Rosewell

Commissioner, National Infrastructure Commission

Councillor Barry Wood

Leader, Cherwell District Council and Chair, The Arc Leaders Group

Kris Krasnowski

Deputy Director, Housing Delivery, Oxford-Cambridge Arc


Bev Hindle

Strategic Director, Oxfordshire County Council

Claire Ruskin

Executive Director, Cambridge Network

James Palmer

Mayor, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Dr Paul Leinster

Professor of Environmental Assessment, Cranfield University

Councillor Susan Brown

Leader, Oxford City Council

Senior speaker confirmed from East West Rail