The Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge Arc has been pivotal in the COVID-19 response, not just for the UK but globally. Inevitably, this has focused investor attention on the region, particularly given the uncertainty surrounding traditional office markets and the retail sector.
Four more authorities in Essex have adopted up-to-date strategic Local Plan policies since our Autumn Local Plan Watch, bringing the total with up-to-date plans to five out of 14 authorities in the county. A number of other emerging Plans are at an advanced stage, but Uttlesford, Thurrock, Rochford and Southend are notable exceptions to plan-making progress.
Northamptonshire’s unitary merger has come into force where the eight councils have formed two. North Northamptonshire is formed of East Northants, Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough while West Northamptonshire is made up of Daventry District, South Northamptonshire and Northampton Borough.
Since our autumn update, Suffolk Coastal has adopted their local plan to guide development until 2036, while Babergh and Mid Suffolk completed their pre-submission consultation in December 2020 and can expect examination of their joint local plan to progress this summer.
There are efforts to make Cambridgeshire and Peterborough more connected and to spread the economic success of Cambridge across the county. As a growth area, it continues to receive central government commitment for significant infrastructure improvements.
With investment, there is an expectation for growth and for Local Plans to spearhead it. The ongoing Local Plan process will start to show if individual authorities share overarching economic aspirations.
The publication of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc Strategic Framework in February 2021 notes Bedfordshire to be an area of opportunity and identified growth. Alongside the implementation of the East West Rail scheme, opportunities are arising for employment, housing and infrastructure within the borough.
Buckinghamshire continues to be a mixed bag with a delay in the review of Plan:MK due to Covid-19 and the White Paper announced. However, some progress has been made on the adoption of the VALP and background evidence on the unitary Buckinghamshire New Local Plan.