Oxford to Cambridge Expressway

Update - August 2019

On 30 August we received a response letter from Highways England (156.1 KB) PDF

On 22 August we received a response letter from the Secretary of State for Transport (471.7 KB) PDF  to Cllr Sue Coopers letter dated 9 August.

On 19 August Cllr Sue Cooper and Cllr Robin Bennett wrote letter to the Leader of Oxford City Council This link will take you to an external website...  seeking clarification on issues relating to climate change, Oxfords unmet housing need and the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway. We have released a press statement relating to this letter This link will take you to an external website... .

On 9 August Cllr Sue Cooper wrote to local MPs and the Secretary of State for Transport to outline the council's opposition to the Expressway project (158.4 KB) PDF

UPDATE - July 2019

In a Council meeting on 18 July, councillors voted to approve a motion to oppose the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Express way - the full wording of the motion is as follows:

Council notes that the UK Government, in tandem with the National Infrastructure Commission, has proposed the construction of a motorway-style expressway between Oxford and Cambridge. This new road will have significant adverse impacts on Oxfordshire: it will create a major source of air and noise pollution, destroy farmland and habitats, increase CO2 emissions - incompatible with the recent Climate Emergency declared by this council in April 2019 and bring more traffic onto the county’s existing roads. Actual and proposed consultation on the Expressway, and indeed on the Ox-Cam Arc proposal and associated major housing growth across the region, has been wholly inadequate and a proper Strategic Environmental Assessment should have taken place before this project left the drawing board. Instead, it has become the basis for regional planning with little democratic legitimacy. Whilst this council supports partnership working and strategic planning and practical links with authorities across the region, it does not support the addition of a major road such as the Expressway in a time of climate emergency – as declared by this council on 11 April 2019.

Highways England’s own analysis of the Expressway shows a benefit:cost ratio (BCR) in the range of 1.1 – 1.3, far lower than most other road schemes analysed by the Department for Transport in 2015, (2:1). The Oxford 2050 plan process has thus far welcomed the perceived benefits of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway. It is also mentioned as a factor in a wide range of council documents and plans, including LP2034. This council asks that its new position on the Expressway is taken into account in all council documents that refer to it.

The Expressway would cause major harm to the quality of life of residents if it passes through the district; this council wishes to withdraw any assumed consent, including any possibility that roads such as the HIF-funded Thames crossing, or the Stadhampton or Watlington bypasses, could later be used or expanded to form part of the Expressway or act as feeder roads for it.

This council fully supports an upgrade in the East-West rail route, with full electrification, as part of the Ox-Cam arc discussions. Such an upgrade must include inter-modal centres, along it and at both ends, to enable maximum use of rail for freight. Any road upgrades necessary to support the East-West rail route should connect to that route and be proportionate to the primacy of rail freight.

Council therefore resolves to:

  • Oppose the Expressway project in all forms, including expansion of existing 8 or new roads in the district to form part of it.
  • Support fully-electrified East-West Rail, including freight capacity and connections, and better public transport and active travel connections.
  • Update all council documents to reflect this new position on the Expressway and related Arc development proposals.
  • Continue to support partnership working, especially with regard to landscapescale conservation and nature recovery networks.
  • Communicate its opposition to Government, MPs and Highways England.

Background and history

You can read about the National Infrastructure Commitee and central government's proposals for the area between Oxford and Cambridge, including the Expressway can be found on the NIC website:

https://www.nic.org.uk/our-work/growth-corridor/ This link will take you to an external website...

Highways England are taking forward more detailed development of the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway proposals. A number of suggested corridor routes have been put forward, some of which cross into South Oxfordshire. These can be seen in the Oxford to Cambridge Stage 3 Report available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/oxford-to-cambridge-expressway-strategic-study-stage-3-report GOV.UK This link will take you to an external website...

Highways England wrote to key stakeholders in Spring 2018 to get their views on the proposed corridor options as set out in the Stage 3 report. South Oxfordshire provided a response to the questions asked regarding preferred corridors on 12 April. You can read the response the council gave at the time here: SODC response to suggested routes (514.2 KB) PDF

Highways England released further detail on the corridors being assessed, and presented these at a stakeholder conference in May 2018. All slides from this conference can be found on the Highways England website:Highways Englands Official Website This link will take you to an external website...

The leader of South Oxfordshire District Council at the time wrote to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, setting out a preference for proposed Expressway corridor C, including sub-option C1 to the North and West of Oxford. Here is the council's letter Here is the council's letter to the Secretary of State for Transport

A response from Jesse Norman MP (251.7 KB) PDF was received on 8 August 2018. 

On 26 July 2018, Kit Malthouse MP, Minister for Housing, wrote to the leaders of all the relevant councils  (143.6 KB) PDF inviting 'ambitious proposals for transformational housing growth including new settlements', with proposals due by 14 September 2018.

Councillor Jane Murphy responded on 15 August 2018 (336.2 KB) PDF .

Oxford Cambridge Expressway corridor decision

On 12 September 2018, Roads Minister Jesse Norman MP announced the chosen corridor for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.This decision determines the broad area within which the road will be developed. Identification and selection of a specific route will now comence and will involve further consultation with members of the public in 2019. Full details of the announcement are available at the following link;


Further detail on the technical work related to the announcement, including relevant maps can be found at the Highways England website at the following link:


Here is the council's inital response to the government's expressway corridor announcement This link will take you to an external website... .

Here is the initial Oxordshire Growth Board response to the announcement This link will take you to an external website... .

Last reviewed: 04 - 09 - 2019

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