Policy paper

Oxford-Cambridge Arc

Published 18 February 2021

Applies to England

What is the Arc?

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc (the Arc) is a globally significant area between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. It is formed of five ceremonial counties: Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire.

It supports over two million jobs, adds over £110 billion to the economy every year and houses one of the fastest growing economies in England.

Our ambition for the Arc

There is an opportunity, recognised by government and local partners, to build a better economic, social and environmental future for the area. With high-quality, well-connected and sustainable communities making the Arc an even more beautiful place to live, work and visit.

Delivering the ambition

To achieve this ambition, the government alongside local partners, is going to:

  • Develop a Spatial Framework for the Arc; a long-term strategic plan to help coordinate the infrastructure, environment and new developments in the area. We are committed to working with local communities throughout so we can create beautiful and sustainable places for residents and workers to enjoy. In July 2021 we published a consultation document, ‘Creating a Vision for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc’, which launched our first public consultation on the development of the Spatial Framework. This consultation ran from 21 July and closed on 12 October. We are currently analysing feedback.

You can find more information here.

  • Explore the creation of an Arc Growth Body; that would be a clear economic leadership voice for the Arc, championing its talent and assets internationally, supporting businesses, and fostering innovation.

  • Examine the case for new and/or expanded settlements, including options informed by possible East West Rail stations between Bedford and Cambridge, and growth options at Cambridge itself. Working with local partners, we will consider options for infrastructure-first development to deliver well-designed, sustainable and vibrant places in the Arc.

Areas of focus


The Arc currently generates over £110 billion to the UK economy every year.

The Arc has the potential to become a world-leading and globally renowned centre for business, innovation and investment in a variety of industries, including AI (Artificial Intelligence), advanced manufacturing and life sciences.


With a strategic approach to planning for growth, we can enhance the area’s natural environment and biodiversity, ensure communities and businesses have access to the infrastructure they need, and ensure new development is more affordable and beautiful so that it enhances places across the Arc.

Connectivity and infrastructure

Improving connectivity across the Arc with a new rail line between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge will link communities with employment and leisure opportunities.

While integrating sustainable and accessible transport options will support our ambition for the Arc and ensure homes and employment sites are situated in the right places.


Encouraging clean growth and the creation of sustainable communities will support us in improving the quality of life for those that live and work in the Arc. While also helping us future-proof its businesses and communities against the effects of climate change.

Key documents