Arc Universities

Earlier this year, Dave Valler (Oxford Brookes University), Andy Jonas (University of Hull) and Laura Robinson (Oxford Brookes) published the paper “Evaluating regional spatial imaginaries: the Oxford–Cambridge Arc” in the journal Territory, Politics, Governance.

The paper develops an evaluative frame to appraise the effectiveness of spatial imaginaries for regional and city-regional developments. Evaluation is based on six criteria broadly reflecting the strength and influence of the relevant spatial concept, its coherence and durability, and the degree of collective ownership achieved. This framework is then deployed against the two main episodes in the development of the Arc, firstly between 2003 and 2008/09 as the ‘O2C Arc’ and then the ongoing Oxford–Cambridge Arc proposal underway since March 2016. The initial O2C Arc emerges as a relatively limited exercise that was unable to gain significant traction, while the second is clearly more substantial, not least given more direct government involvement. However, at this stage the limits of the OxCam Arc concept still remain apparent in terms of its overall coherence, its level of influence on local policy, and its ability to engender public and stakeholder support.

Building on the paper Dave Valler published a letter in the professional magazine Planning (28th April) highlighting the tough strategic planning challenges that will be faced by the Arc Spatial Framework to be developed by late-2022. These include complex questions of governance both in a fragmented institutional landscape and in terms of relations with central government; the critical issue of public engagement and the reality of political opposition to the scale of the Arc proposals; and finally the basis for spatial strategy – and in turn decisions over where infrastructure and housing will be located. Dave also talked through some of these issues in a podcast on the Arc hosted by No.5 Barristers Chambers and including senior consultants and strategic planners.

The link to the TPG paper is here

Or contact Dave Valler for a copy:

Read the letter in Planning here  and you can listen to the podcast here.

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