Welcome to SPADE
Sunningwell Parishioners Against Damage to the Environment (SPADE) is a longstanding Oxfordshire based, non party-political community campaigning group. For the last 15 years we have worked with other local, regional and national organisations to campaign on spatial planning and development matters impacting the Parish and surrounding areas. We are founder members of the Need Not Greed Oxfordshire Coalition. We champion democratically accountable, plan led, environmentally sound development, tailored to meet local needs.
Our current major campaign is the Highways England Oxford Cambridge Expressway route consultation expected in autumn 2019. We are passionate that local people should be aware of the issues, and have their voices heard (whatever their views).
The Oxford - Cambridge Expressway Campaign
What is an expressway?
An expressway is at a minimum a dual carriageway road, possibly up to a three-lane motorway with what are called "grade separated" junctions (e.g. like that at the A34 Marcham junction). But it’s not just a road. The project is also designed to support widespread accelerated development, well beyond natural or historic levels of growth. See below for more information.
Where will it go?
There are two "corridors" under consideration either side of Oxford and then from near the M40 at either Junction 8/8a or Junction 9, running north-east, into Buckinghamshire.
Corridor B1 runs to the west and B3 to the south of Oxford. Both might use some existing roads (possibly widened) but both will also create new multi lane, highly damaging, roads across open farmland in the Oxford Green Belt and open up new locations for large scale developments.
Information is still uncertain as Highways England have not provided any detailed maps only text based descriptions.
What Happens Next?
We originally expected 6-8 possible expressway routes identified within corridors B1/3 for public consultation in Autumn of 2019. This has been postponed to at least early 2020. Route options will be based on both B1 and B3 corridors. It is not clear if the public will be allowed to comment on the principle of the expressway.
Highways England claim they will announce the final route by the end of 2020. Highways England will then submit the plans to the Planning Inspectorate. An officially appointed, independent Inspector will examine the plans, and will probably hold public hearings. The Inspector will determine the case based on if the legal process has been correctly followed NOT on the merits of the proposals. She/he will make a recommendation to the Minister of State for Transport. Subject to approval, building is expected to commence by 2025 and completion expected by 2030.
What about the Growth "ARC"?
In March 2019 a "Joint Declaration of Ambition between Government and the Arc" was published which demonstrated the scale of ambition for accelerating growth in the wider Arc area. Full details of the ARC Ambition document can be found here :- https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/799993/OxCam_Arc_Ambition.pdf
The ambition is for at least 1,000,000 new houses and 1,100,000 jobs to be unlocked by development of the Arc facilitated by the expressway and east west rail. In Oxfordshire in addition to the 100,000 homes already in Local Plans that would be built anyway (i.e. in the absence of the expressway) a further 200, 000 houses uniquely associated with the ‘transformational development’ of the expressway are envisaged by 2050. Oxfordshire housing and population will increase by 100% by 2050. For comparison, the Office of National Statistics calculates that England’s population as a whole will grow by only 16% by 2050.
SPADE'S expressway position
Following the very well supported public meeting in October, SPADE (like many other organisations including the Vale of White Horse District Council and the Oxfordshire County Council) opposes the construction of the Expressway as a matter of principle. We support limited improvements of existing roads, especially where this will improve existing unacceptable levels of air and noise pollution. We believe that the expressway is economically illiterate (even on the current modest cost estimates that will only increase), producing very low cost benefit ratios. The expressway will :-
increase the overall volume of traffic in Oxfordshire
enable massive growth in Oxfordshire raising our housing numbers from 260,000 to 560,000 and more than doubling our population by 2050 (Oxfordshire's population will grow by 100%, whereas nationally, population growth is only forecast at 16%)*
promote unsustainable, car dependent, developments
devastate our countryside and natural environment, creating an outer M25, long distance freight route, with urban development along its entire route
increase air and noise pollution
fuel climate change
deprive northern communities of much needed infrastructure spending which could revitalise their local economies and create regeneration opportunities
* SPADE recognises that more truly affordable housing is needed in Oxfordshire. But counter-intuitively, there is no evidence that market led development, even on this scale, will deliver homes that local people can afford.
Register as a Highways England Stakeholder
Any individual or group can register to be a Highways England stakeholder for the Ox-Cam Expressway Project. This was formally confirmed by Matt Stafford, Project Director for Oxford to Cambridge Expressway Project, on 30th July 2019.
Groups (e.g. Parish Councils, community groups etc.) can register by simply emailing - OxfordToCambridgeExpressway@highwaysengland.co.uk and asking to become a 'Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG)' for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway project.
Individuals currently need to register using the following process - until HE have launched their dedicated Ox-Cam Project website. It doesn't take long and it's really important that as many of us do this as possible. Sign up to Highways England for updates using this link .You are invited to become a Subscriber (don't worry, it's free!).
Enter your email address and click on the ‘Submit’ button.
In the long list of options to subscribe to updates about:
Expand "Road Projects" option
Expand "East of England road projects" sub-option
select "Oxford to Cambridge expressway" (very near the bottom of the road projects list)
Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the Submit button
If you have any problems at all with this process, please contact us here.
We have been informed that ALL stakeholders, whether individuals or groups, will receive the same information about the consultation at the same time. Some warning will be given by email before the full expressway consultation is launched, then another email will be sent round, announcing the route options consultation launch.
So what does being a stakeholder mean?
Highways England will send any new information it is sharing, directly to you. E.g. when HE announce the timing and details of the consultation process later this year. HE has committed to sending this information to all registered stakeholders. It's also a great way of demonstrating how interested our communities and groups are.
As well as registering as a stakeholder you can take action TODAY to make a difference. If you are concerned that the expressway will devastate the environment, and doubling the population of Oxfordshire is not the future you want to leave the next generation, there are two petitions to sign right now at UK Government and Parliament petition and change.org petition. Please add your name.
Help SPADE - Get Involved in the Expressway Campaign
Join the SPADE team
SPADE is looking for team members! Do you have energy and commitment to help protect our environment? Are you passionate about making sure local people are involved in critical decisions that will affect their and their childrens' lives? Are you fed up with the democratic deficit? If so, we would be delighted to hear from you. Use the contact us section to get in touch.
Volunteer Your Time
Want to join our efforts but not sure where to start? Volunteer your time to deliver leaflets, help set up events, or even attend other organisations public meetings to report back. Get in touch with us today for more details about how you can help.
Make a Donation
SPADE needs your support. Whilst we have no paid staff, and all costs are kept to an absolute minimum, there are some things (like this website) that need funding. Donations of time, expertise or campaigning materials are also very welcome. If you can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Highways England Overview Booklet
This is the official HE booklet that accompanied the Corridor Assessment Report published in 2018 that announced the choice of the central corridor basically paralleling the East West Rail Line with 2 options either side of Oxford (beware large file)
Links to other campaigning groups
There are several organisations involved in Oxfordshire. All oppose the expressway (or one of the corridors):-
Countywide the No Expressway Alliance, NEA - https://www.noexpresswayalliance.org
Largely north and north-east of Oxford - the No Expressway Group NEG - https://www.noexpressway.org
Largely north and west of Oxford - The North And West Parishes Expressway Group (NAWPEG) contact email CllrDavidKay@hotmail.com The next NAWPEG meeting will be held at 7pm on the 14th Nov 2019 at Seacourt Hall, Botley. This is for Parish Councils and other associated environmental groups directly associated with the B1 expressway route
POETS - is a small group of individuals involved in Planning and Transport in Oxfordshire who are concerned about the current direction (or lack of it) in land use planning and transport policy in the area.- https://www.poetsplanningoxon.uk/
Other organisations who have expressway policies
Buckinghamshire Expressway Action Group, BEAG. http://www.beag.org.uk
Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, BBOWT. https://www.bbowt.org.uk/search?search=expressway
Campaign to Protect Rural England, CPRE. https://www.cpre.org.uk/search?q=expressway
Oxford Friends of the Earth
Route Consultation - awaiting details from Highways England now expected after the election in 2020
Details of the consultation will be posted here as soon as they are available. The consultation will probably last 10 weeks. We will provide our draft response on this site as soon as it is prepared.
SPADE's Other Campaigns and Activities
The Oxfordshire Plan builds on the foundations set by the current and emerging Local Plans and looks beyond them, at the strategic planning issues for the period up to 2050. It will give districts a framework for future planning policies and help determine planning applications where appropriate. The Plan is one of the commitments made by the six Oxfordshire authorities as part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal, which is intended to help deliver new homes, including affordable and social housing, and infrastructure to the county. It has been subjected to limited public consultation which has been criticised by some local organisations. A further consultation is intended by the County Council in the future but it is unclear when this will take place. SPADE will post details when the consultation is announced. It will be an important plan in determining the future of Oxfordshire and our natural environment.
Lodge Hill "Diamond" Junction and Park and Ride (forthcoming OCC Local Transport Connectivity Plan)
Highways England intend to make the current "limited" junction into an "all movements" junction. The Vale of White Horse District Council "safeguarded" the land shown hatched red in the link below as part of the adoption of their Local Plan Part 2. This prohibits development of the area that could prevent the junction from being built. Funding is in place for the junction and the opening date was originally scheduled as December 2020. It is known this will be delayed due to uncertainty caused by the Expressway.
Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) requested the safeguarding of a site just to the north of Lodge Hill for a park and ride to replace Redbridge P&R. Although the proposal is unfunded, the Vale has included this request in their Local Plan (Part 2) which is awaiting adoption. OCC is also examining the potential to add a lorry park and facilities for drivers (services) and possibly a freight transfer station to the site as well but would need substantial extra space.
Plans for 2 transport links to the development site at Dalton Barracks were removed from the Local Plan following sustained campaigning from the Local community, co-ordinated and led by SPADE.
SPADE believes that the proposed location is illogical and that if remote Park and Ride sites are needed, this site should be reconsidered as part of the Dalton Barracks Garden Village proposal. Further information will be published here when known.
Vale of White Horse District Council Local Plan
Following a long and detailed process in which SPADE presented significant evidence and championed local views, the Planning Inspector issued his final report on Local Plan 2031 Part 2 (LPP2) to the Council on 25 June 2019. The Inspector’s report concludes that the Plan is ‘Sound’ despite widespread concerns it is based on Oxford City's as yet unproven "unmet need" which required the Vale to accommodate an extra 2,200 dwellings beyond the 20,000 (approx) it was already planning for up to 2031.
Following the change in administration in May 2019 the new Vale leadership, after a period of investigation, adopted the Part 2 plan on the 9th October 2019. This is despite many of the Councillors in the ruling group campaigning against much if its contents including removal of green belt status for Shippon Village as an example. The fact that Central Government formally directed South Oxfordshire District Council to not even consider the future of its own local plan (which it was intending to withdraw) may have played a significant part in making this decision.
Now that it has been adopted it's policies carry full weight in decision making.
A website with full details of the local plan can be accessed below.
SPADE belongs / subscribes to a number of other organisations, including :-
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) http://www.cpreoxon.org.uk/
The Need Not Greed Oxfordshire coalition (NNGO) http://www.neednotgreedoxon.org.uk/
The No Expressway Alliance (NEA) https://www.noexpresswayalliance.org/
The North And West Parishes Expressway Group (NAWPEG) contact email CllrDavidKay@hotmail.com
We also support the Oxfordshire Greenbelt Network http://www.oxfordgreenbelt.net/