Communicating the message of the green Oxford – Cambridge Arc needs improving, according to one of the leading figures behind it.

In a session chaired by Rob Allaway, managing director of DevComms, Bev Hindle, executive director of the Arc Leadership Group, told delegates at UKPropFest on September 9, there is a challenge to convince people that growth can be good and more communications need to be developed.

Mr Hindle said he had looked into the objections of the Stop the Arc group, which had initially been set up to stop the Expressway, the Oxford to Cambridge road which was ditched earlier this year.

It now campaigns against the number of homes planned across the Arc.

Mr Hindle said: “It’s absolutely legitimate to be concerned about change and if you want to stop the Arc, that’s fine. But when I read their manifesto, they were really angry about the changes coming from the planning system.

“In fact, when I read the manifesto there was nothing saying they were really angry about the Arc. What they didn’t acknowledge, because we are not communicating this very well to the public, is that the Arc is about promoting better change, better outcomes and better life opportunities.

“There is a real serious problem. If I’m up here telling an enlightened group how the world is going to work, but 90 per cent of people don’t even know what the Arc is, then we’ve got a problem.

“So can we use something like green Arc to be able to communicate and develop communications to the public and can we develop the embedding of everything from policy to delivery mechanisms?

“I think the challenge for us is to be able to say, ‘can we use the green Arc as something that actually provides value right now and going forward?’.”

An audience question queried whether the return on investment in green initiatives had been overstated when developers seek to maximise their own profits.

Jayne Manley, chief executive of the Earth Trust, pointed to benefits from what she called designing in nature.

She said: “If we did build nature into our future developments it would be win-win-win.

“If it’s built into ecosystem where people work, you are not just giving them health and wellbeing benefits as they walk through it.

“You are helping clean up the water within their ecosystem; you are able to, through the trees and planting, make the air they breathe better for us all and less polluted; you are able to lock up carbon more in wetlands, woodlands and wildflower meadows than we are in concrete roads.

“So for me, it’s about making the most of nature-based solutions that we’ve always had available to us but, somehow over the last 50 – 100 years, we have forgotten.”

See also:

Session 1: ‘We must keep communities on board’

Session 2: ‘Oxford needs to have a cohesive voice’

Session 3: Oxfordshire’s clusters explored

Image (l-r): Andrew Taylor, group planning director, Countryside, Nick Hayes, partner, head of sustainability, Ridge, Dr Jayne Manley, chief executive, The Earth Trust and Bev Hindle, executive director, Oxford – Cambridge Arc Leadership Group.

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