The Oxford-Cambridge Expressway has taken a backseat thanks to a Government document stating the scheme is now on pause.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said in November the scheme will be reviewed and now the newly-published Road Investment Strategy 2: 2020–2025 has put the brakes on the scheme.

The report highlights Government support for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc but on the Expressway road, which would link the M1 to the M40, states: “We are now pausing further development of the scheme while we undertake further work on other potential road projects that could support the Government’s ambition for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and benefit people who live and work there, including exploring opportunities to alleviate congestion around the Arc’s major economic centres such as Milton Keynes.

“We will work with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and local partners on the proposed spatial framework to identify the role transport can play alongside the proposed economic and housing growth ambitions for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.”

Rob Hopwood, planning partner for property consultancy Bidwells, said: “The Expressway Road was never an essential ingredient for east-west connectivity or economic growth and the Varsity Rail line will now let the train take the strain.

“Pouring concrete across vast swathes of the Thames Valley countryside, and spending £3.5 billion to do so, is not the solution to joining up the Arc’s tech clusters.”

The March 11 Budget emphasised support for the Arc and a new railway station at Cambridge South, as part of the East West Rail project. New development corporations are being considered for Bedford, St Neots/Sandy, Cambourne and Cambridge including plans for a new town at Cambridge.

Bidwells’ senior partner Patrick McMahon said: “We welcome moves to support Oxford-Cambridge Arc set out in the Budget but urge the Chancellor to be bolder and go further by investing more money and speeding up delivery to support a science and tech super-cluster.

“More clarity is needed around infrastructure and zoning to avoid political deadlock scuppering the region’s growth.”

David Frisby, director at Thames Tap partner mode Transport Planning, said: “Whilst the east to west corridor is emerging as a vitally important opportunity to deliver housing growth; in this instance the Government is right in calling for a short pause, particularly in light of the recent court ruling against growth at Heathrow not tackling climate change as per the Paris Climate Agreement.

“This suggests that we may be beginning to see a move away from large infrastructure projects such as the Expressway, in favour of a more sustainable approach to delivering large scale development.”

© Thames Tap No 202 (powered by